‘Shortcutting the process’: Thailand’s Buono credits plant-based success to portfolio variety and move away from meat replacements

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Buono believes that the success of its plant-based business can be credited to its widespread portfolio variety which focuses on more unique products as opposed to meat replacements. ©Buono Thailand
Buono believes that the success of its plant-based business can be credited to its widespread portfolio variety which focuses on more unique products as opposed to meat replacements. ©Buono Thailand

Related tags Thailand plant-based

Thailand-based plant-based specialist firm Buono believes that the success of its business can be credited to its portfolio variety which focuses on more unique products as opposed to meat replacements.

This unique plant-based portfolio covers items such as plant-based ‘fish’ sauce and plant-based eggs as well as a variety of desserts, moving away from the over-saturated alternative meats and alternative dairy categories.

“There is certainly no doubt that there is a saturation of plant-based and alternative processed meats in the market currently, and this is the reason it is not a focus area for Buono,”​ Buono Marketing Director Bee Supavarasuwat told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“What we have strived to go after is a simpler, better shortcut process to reach and appeal to consumers, which means we have decided to stick to more natural, non-processed products that are closer to nature.

“This is based on our research which shows that experienced plant-based eaters are in fact after more plant-based whole foods as opposed to things like processed meats, so we work on increasing accessibility and enhancing the taste of products based on these principles.

“Some of the unique products we have developed in this regard include a ‘fish’ sauce made from kombu, and a plant-based egg where the ‘egg white’ is made from cashew and the ‘egg yolk’ is made from lotus seed.

“What has really been trending lately has been our plant-based desserts such as mochi ice cream, with a strong focus on the use of fresh fruits – one of our biggest markets is Australia where the reception to exotic fruits is really strong, such as lychee which did really well in 2023.

“There is also a strong association between fruits and health in Thailand, so we have found the fruity flavours to also be a major selling point in the local market as well.”

Buono’s dessert items such as its Mochi Ice Creams use coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk and other plant-based milks as a base to which it has developed tropical fruit flavours like lychee, passionfruit and mango as well as Asian flavours such as black sesame, Thai milk tea and taro.

“This wide variety is very important in moving plant-based past the hype phase that this category saw post-pandemic and transition it to become a more common category,”​ she added.

“Hype is great to bring focus to a category but the main aim should always be to look to the next step which is to make it normalised and expand beyond that phase, so that the category will not plateau in a negative way once the excitement over its novelty has been lost.”

Mighty mochi

Buono has several decades of production experience and history behind it, with the mochi as its star product for some 20 years – but now it believes that there is a lot of scope for broader growth, which is where its wider portfolio innovation is coming into play.

“We certainly believe that there is still room for the mochi range to expand further in terms of flavours, and we are still looking to make the most of our location in Thailand to explore more local ingredients,”​ she said.

“That said, with the advancement of food technology and experience, we now believe that there is wide scope for us to explore categories out of the frozen desserts space, so apart from the sauce and egg mentioned we are also focusing on things such as snacks, condiments and retort foods.

“One other reason for this is that the frozen food category has limitations that must be acknowledged, namely the need for cold-chain transportation, so moving forward we certainly hope to broaden our portfolio even further.”

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