Alternative Proteins and Asia: 10 Key Findings

Our latest report Alternative Proteins and Asia reveals that Asia’s growing demand for alternative proteins is an opportunity for AUS & NZ manufacturers to harness a new market.

1. China emerged as the most promising market in Asia for alternative proteins, followed by Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.

2. People with flexitarian diets (those who eat plant-based options at some or most meals) are driving interest in alternative proteins in the five focus markets.

This dietary preference is predominantly driven by health concerns in all markets except Singapore, where environmental concerns are the top driver.

3. Taste, price and perception of being too processed are the biggest three barriers to acceptance of plant-based meat in the five Asian markets.

4. One-quarter of Chinese consumers identify as flexitarian and one-third of Chinese intend to reduce their intake of at least one type of meat, including poultry, red meat, and fish/seafood.

In China a greater percentage of women than men consume plant-based meat, consumption increases with age and household income, and a greater percentage of parents consume plant-based meat than non-parents.

5. 19% of people across all five markets are flexitarian:  China (24%), Singapore (21%), South Korea (9%), Japan (3%), and Thailand (38%).

6. Foodservice is the best entry point for Australian and New Zealand plant-based meat brands, via quick service restaurants, while ready meals are also a growing opportunity given the rise in single person households.

Industry experts in China advise that offline and traditional outlets sell plant-based meat, but sales are stronger through online outlets. Plant-based meat products in China tend to be launched on e-commerce platforms before launching in retail stores: e-commerce platforms are a good way to test market receptiveness and have lower up-front costs.

7. Singapore is the regional and global hub for new food technology (in particular, products using cellular agriculture technologies such as cell cultivation, and precision or biomass fermentation) as a counter to its dependence on food imports. Singapore is the only country in Asia (and only one of two countries globally) that permits sales of cultivated meat and precision fermentation dairy products.

In addition to aquaculture and vegetable production, alternative protein processing and cellular agriculture technologies are a major focus of the Singapore Government’s 30 by 30 plan. Singapore does not have the landmass to grow broadacre crops commonly used for plant-based meat production, namely soybean, wheat, chickpea, lentil, mung bean and field pea. This may present an opportunity for direct imports of specialty grains and pulses as well as finished and semi-finished goods from Australia and New Zealand.

8. Ready meals is a growing segment that appeals to convenience seekers and demonstrates how these products can be used across familiar dishes and cuisines.

Plant-based meat products in Thailand are available in various formats and nuggets, mince and meatballs are by far the most popular. Ready meals and meal kits made with plant-based meats are becoming more available as consumers’ interest in health, convenience and plant-based foods continue to grow.

9. In Singapore the top drivers for consumption of cultivated meat include environmental concerns (51%), health benefits (43%), animal welfare concerns (43%) and contributing to food security (42%).

Six percent of consumers indicate they will definitely purchase cultivated meat once it becomes more widely available and a further 33% say they are likely to purchase cultivated meat once it becomes more widely available.

10. Japanese consumers were the most conservative towards alternative proteins out of the five markets surveyed.

Seven percent of Japanese are consuming plant-based meat, with 10% indicating they would likely purchase cultivated meat once it became available. The biggest barrier to plant-based meat consumption is taste. Women are especially sensitive to the palatability of plant-based meats: 32% report taste as a barrier. This is followed by perceptions of it being too processed and a lack of availability.

Alternative Proteins and Asia is available for download here.

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