The global phenomenon that is plant-based meat shows no signs of slowing down, especially in Asia, where the industry is poised for rapid growth. According to the Good Food Institute Asia Pacific, in 2020 a record US$3.1billion was invested in companies creating alternatives to animal-based foods, triple the capital raised in 2019. Singapore in particular—where Next Gen Foods is based—is establishing itself as a hub for alternative protein startups. The country, which has an ambitious “30 by 30” goal of producing 30 per cent of its food domestically by 2030, has spearheaded a series of “firsts” in alternative protein companies. Apart from being the first in the world to approve a lab-grown meat product, its sovereign fund, Temasek, also recently established the Asia Sustainable Foods platform to accelerate the growth of sustainable foods in Asia by taking food-tech companies from incubation to commercialisation.
Here’s why plant-based meat is here to stay, and what it takes to succeed in Asia’s fledgling markets.
The rise of plant-based meat in Asia and the rest of the world
The plant-based foods market holds tremendous potential: as Bloomberg Intelligence reported, it could make up to 7.7 per cent of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of over US$162 billion. The report showed that the Asia-Pacific region, with its population projected to 4.6 billion by 2030, will be particularly vulnerable to limited food supplies—making the region a prime candidate to dominate the plant-based protein market. The report also predicts that the alternative meat market can potentially grow from US$4.2 billion to $74 billion in the next ten years, fuelled by increasingly competitive prices as well as recognition of its positive impacts on health and sustainability.
We chose to launch TiNDLE, our plant-based chicken product, in Singapore for many reasons: it’s a global culinary hub, has a wealth of international talent and is a gateway to Asia. TiNDLE is now available in around 100 restaurants here and its versatility means it has performed well across diverse cuisines, including Chinese, Indian and Thai. TiNDLE is now also present in other culinary epicentres and major markets including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Dubai, Amsterdam, the US, UK and most recently, Germany.
One key learning has been to follow an asset-light business model, meaning we do not build and invest in heavy assets like production machinery. Instead we really focus on key value drivers like R&D, product development, communication and brand, and building our business networks.
Most alternative protein brands welcome other brands in the plant-based meat space as every high-quality product helps to persuade consumers that plant-based meat is a good alternative to animal protein. It’s not a case of winner-takes-all as the potential is just too big. The meat industry is currently a US$1.5 trillion industry, with chicken alone at US$300 billion. If TiNDLE generated US$1 billion in revenue, that would be just 0.3% of the chicken market.