Alt Protein Watch: Thailand's Buono, cultivated protein market consolidation, Japan's NEXT MEATS and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Thailand's Buono, cultivated protein market consolidation, Japan's NEXT MEATS and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images
Thailand's Buono, cultivated protein market consolidation, Japan's NEXT MEATS and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch. ©Getty Images

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Thailand's Buono, cultivated protein market consolidation, Japan's NEXT MEATS and more feature in this edition of Alt Protein Watch.

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

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​.

‘Plugging the gaps’: Market consolidation in cultivated protein sector vital to overcome ‘disillusionment’

Singapore cultivated seafood firm Umami Bioworks believes that strategic mergers are crucial to overcome doubts about the sector and achieve buy-in from major brands which can help the category scale-up.

Umami Bioworks hit the news recently for its merger with Shiok Meats, especially with both firms well-known for being cultivated seafood industry leaders and pioneers in their own right.

“The M&A really came about when we saw that the market was unfortunately turning sour and sentiment was down during this trough of disillusionment period,”​ Umami Bioworks CEO Mihir Pershad told FoodNavigator-Asia​ during the most recent episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast.

A long way to go? A Japanese expert’s take on game changers needed for local consumers to adopt plant-based diet

A 'game-changing phenomenon' needs to take place before plant-based could become a strong trend in Japan, according to an industry expert pioneering meat alternatives in the country.

While headquartered in Japan, NEXT MEATS admitted that it is going to take some time before local consumers become more receptive to meat alternatives.

The firm recently introduced​ a new soy protein-based meat alternative named NEXT BEEF 1.0, as well as plant-based versions of foie gras, caviar and truffle butter by its spinoff company Dr. FOODS.

“We started with B2C in Japan, but it didn’t go so well. That is why we are focusing on B2B right now. We are targeting restaurants and hotels, and unflavoured products are doing well because the professional chefs want to cook in their own ways," Mitsuru Anthony Ueno, chief operating officer of NEXT MEATS USA, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.


Collaboration drive: How Nurasa aims to drive commercialisation of low-sugar, cholesterol-free, and gut-friendly foods

Start-ups need to be helped to act faster to drive returns, while MNC's need assistance to overcome the challenges of carrying out disruptive innovation in-house, says the CEO of Nurasa, which recently launched a new food innovation facility in Singapore to devlop consumer-centric innovation.

Nurasa, owned by Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek, was founded in 2021 to transform food systems in becoming more environmentally friendly, accessible and innovative, and to strengthen food security and boost sustainable nutrition development in Singapore and across Asia.

Its latest 3,840sqm facility named Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) was inaugurated on April 24, and will serve as a hub for pioneering product development and commercialisation of consumer-centric innovations, such as low-sugar, cholesterol-free, and gut-friendly foods.

The FTIC is equipped with high-tech laboratories that tap into capabilities in precision fermentation and food processing of Nurasa’s partners, including A*STAR and ScaleUp Bio.

Digital development: Food brands play ‘critical role’ in shifting agrifood system towards modernisation and sustainability

Consumer-facing food and beverage brands play a ‘critical role’ in moving the Asia Pacific agrifood system towards digitalisation, organisation and long-term sustainability by influencing consumer purchasing decisions, say experts.

Although there have been countless discussions over the past decade to digitalise the agrifood sector and implement agtech innovations more widely, implementation has turned out to be much easier said than done especially when smallholders are brought into the fray.

The world of digital agritechnology has since grown to encompass many different types of solutions from equipment advancement to traceability and software platforms – but at the heart of this, organisation and defragmentation is what needs to see more focus, according to venture capital consultancy ID Capital.

“Generally speaking, in the context of smallholder farmers in Asia, the most efficient agritech innovations are those where digitisation helps to organise what is otherwise disorganised and fragmented,”​ ID Capital Founder Isabelle Decitre told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

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