Future Food Now #14: Alt Protein News from Asia Pacific

Future Food Now #14: Alt Protein News from Asia Pacific
By Michal Klar • Issue #14 • View online
Welcome back,
I’ve been searching for an optimal format for this newsletter: interesting for you to read and fun for me to write. It originally started as a recap of alt protein news from APAC but then evolved into deep dives into specific sector-related topics.
Then it dawned on me: why not do both?
So I will alternate. This month you will see a selection of top headlines, one brief analysis (Oatly IPO) and a new section: ‘quick fire’ style interviews with alt protein founders.
And next time I am doing another deep dive - all about Singapore as an emerging regional (global?) alt protein hub. Already started working on it and it’s really fun.
Hope you’ll enjoy it. Let me know what you think of this ‘the best of both worlds’ approach.

Top headlines from APAC alt protein industry.
💰 Funding announcements
🔸 Next Gen Foods (Singapore): US$10m seed round for its plant-based chicken from Temasek, K3 Ventures, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), German wholesaler Metro’s NX-Food and others; the company claims it is the largest seed round ever for plant-based meat startup based on PitchBook data (more)
🔸 CellMEAT (South Korea): US$4.5m (₩5 billion) pre-series A round for its cell-based meat technology led by NAU IB Capital (more)
🔸 Hero Protein (China): US$850k pre-seed round for its plant-based meat products from Germany-headquartered commodities and co-manufacturing company Cremer, Lever VC China and others (more)
🔸 Nourish Ingredients (Australia): US$11m (AU$14.4m) seed round for its plant-based fats from Hong Kong’s Horizons Ventures and Main Sequence Ventures (more)
🔸 Green Rebel Foods (Indonesia), previously known as Green Butcher: seed round (undisclosed amount) for its plant-based meat products led by Unovis and Teja Ventures (more)
🔸 Australian Plant Proteins or APP (Australia): US$35.4m (AU$45.7m) for plant protein isolate production in strategic minority investment from the US agri-food company Bunge, which will also become the exclusive distributor for the Americas (more)
🔸 Deliciou (Australia): seed round (undisclosed amount) for dehydrated, shelf-stable plant-based meats from Stray Dog Capital and individual investors; the company is reportedly valued at US$50m (AU$65m) (more)
🔸 Evo Foods (India): US$845k (Rs 6.2 crore) pre-seed round for its plant-based egg from Sustainable Food Ventures, Michiel Van Deursen (Capital V), members of the Glasswall Syndicate and others (more)
🆕 Product launches & expansion
🔸 Green Monday Group (Hong Kong) is expanding its Omnipork/Omnimeat brand globally with soft launches in Japan (more), the UK (more) and the US (more) as well as distributorship agreement in Australia with a focus on Asian and independent grocery stores (more)
🔸 OmniPork Luncheon product from the same group has been rolled out in selected McDonald’s locations in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in mainland China; earlier the company launched the product as part of the breakfast menu at McDonald’s in Hong Kong (more)
🔸 Next Gen Foods (Singapore) debuted its plant-based chicken under the brand TiNDLE, starting with Singapore where it partnered with 11 restaurant brands for the launch; the company is planning to expand to more locations in APAC later this year (more)
🔸 Eat Just partnered with Foodpanda in Singapore for the world-first home delivery of cell-based chicken, available in limited quantities for ~US$15 (SG$20) plus a delivery fee (more)
🔸 The Vegetarian Butcher, Unilever-owned company from the Netherlands, launched six new plant-based meat products for foodservice channel in mainland China (more); the company is also providing a patty for Plant Based Whopper at Burger King in China at 325 locations and starting on May 5th in selected outlets in Greater Jakarta Area in Indonesia (source)
🔸 v2food (Australia) has been also working with Burger King in selected APAC markets on a plant-based patty for the Whopper; in the last months it launched in South Korea (more) and Thailand (more), previously landing similar deals with BK in the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand
🔸 Nestlé Malaysia launched a dairy-free version of chocolate malt beverage Milo and is expanding production of its Harvest Gourmet plant-based meat product line (more)
🔸 Sophie Bionutrients (Singapore) shown what it claims to be the world’s first plant-based milk alternative made out of microalgae (more) and a burger patty made from single-cell microalgae (more)
🔸 Next Meats (Japan) launched its plant-based yakiniku meats in Singapore at Japanese restaurant chain Aburi-EN (more)
🔸 Hao Foods, a startup from China rolled out its peanut-protein based chicken product at five restaurants in Shanghai (more)
🏭 Manufacturing / R&D / partnerships
🔸 Avant (Hong Kong) announced it is establishing the “R&D and pilot manufacturing plant” in Singapore for cell-based seafood, supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (more)
🔸 TurtleTree Scientific (Singapore), a spinoff of a cell-based milk startup TurtleTree Labs, partnered with JSBiosciences (more) and Dyadic (more) on the development of cell culture media
🔸 Beyond Meat opened its first end-to-end manufacturing facility outside of the US - in Jiaxing near Shanghai; the factory will produce a “range of plant-based pork, beef and poultry products, including Beyond Pork, created specifically for the Chinese market” (more)
🔸 Oatly partnered with Yeo Hiap Seng (Yeo’s) to manufacture its products in Singapore; partners will jointly invest ~US$22.5m (SG$30m) in the facility with production starting in the second half of the year, with oat milk initially “earmarked for China and subsequently for the rest of Asia” (more)
🔸 Bühler & Givaudan (both Swiss companies) opened a joint protein innovation centre in Singapore “outfitted with a pilot scale wet and dry extruder, a state-of-the-art product development kitchen” (more)
🔸 ADM, another agri-food giant from the US, also opened “a plant-based innovation lab” in Singapore’s Biopolis hub (more)
🔸 Blue Nalu, a cell-based seafood startup from the US, signed MoUs with Asian companies Mitsubishi Corporation & Thai Union (one of the world’s largest seafood players) focusing on market development “specifically in Asia, where there is high demand for quality seafood”; Thai Union has been one of the investors in Blue Nalu‘s latest US$60m Series B round (more)
🗞️ Other news
🔸 Alternative Protein Council in Australia launched in March to “provide a collective voice for the sector”; founding members include Australian plant-based meat companies Proform Foods, v2food, Rogue Foods, Sanitarium, along with Nestlé Australia and Impossible Foods (more)
🔸 Impossible Foods cut wholesale prices in Singapore (more) and Hong Kong (more) by 20-30%, following a similar move in the US earlier, enabled by “tremendous growth and economies of scale”, as part of the long-term strategy to achieve price parity with animal-based meat (more).
Oatly IPO prospectus - my key takeaways
Source/credit: Green Queen
Source/credit: Green Queen
Oatly is preparing for the highly anticipated Nasdaq IPO with a rumoured valuation of ~US$10 billion. The Swedish company has recently published a prospectus with plenty of interesting data - including some from Asia Pacific. I read it so you do not have to. Here are the highlights:
📈 Global revenue: US$421.4m in 2020, up 106% from US$204m in 2019. And the momentum is accelerating: in the previous year, the YoY growth has been 73%.
💸 Not yet profitable: net loss US$60.4m in 2020 up from US$35.6m in 2019.
🌏 Asia is the fastest-growing region: with revenue up more than 5x YoY in 2020 compared to 2.5x in the Americas region and 1.7x in Europe & Middle East.
🛒 Oatly’s products are sold at 17,000 foodservice and retail outlets across Asia, almost as many as in the Americas (17,500). About 55% of Asian locations are in mainland China, including 4,700 Starbucks stores in the country.
📦 Ecommerce in China: “In 2020, e-commerce accounted for 21% of our revenue in China. […] On Tmall.com we outsold our plant-based competitors by at least three times.”
🏭 Production capacity: from 2018, Oatly invested over US$218m to expand capacity. In 2020, it has reached 300 million litres. Thanks largely to the new plants in the UK, China and Singapore, the capacity is expected to reach 600 million litres in 2021 and 1 billion litres by 2022 = ~20x increase over 5 years.
🇭🇰 Second listing in Hong Kong: Chinese state-owned China Resources is one of Oatly’s largest shareholders (via joint-venture with Belgium’s Verlinvest which own ~60% of shares). It has an option to trigger a second listing in HK: “Upon a written request by China Resources or its affiliates […] we shall promptly seek an additional listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange”. Financial Times has more details on the potential reasons to include that clause.
🍔 Beyond Meat comparison: Oatly’s key financial metrics for the full year 2020 are remarkably close to those of Beyond Meat’s, see the table below.
In USD; 12 months till 31 Dec 2020; source: SEC/Nasdaq
In USD; 12 months till 31 Dec 2020; source: SEC/Nasdaq
Oatly does grow faster though: +106.5% vs. Beyond’s +36.6% YoY.
New at FFN: Quick 🔥 interviews with APAC alt protein founders
The first-ever FFN Quick Fire is featuring George Peppou, co-founder of Australian cell-based meat startup Vow.
Vow in 3 words?
“Better than meat”
Why have you started Vow? 
I want to contribute to creating delicious new forms of food that enhance the incredible cultural and emotional experiences we have around food, not just remake the animals our ancestors happened to domesticate.
What will Vow be when it grows up (in ~15 years)?
Offering hundreds of different products, across every continent to feed billions of people each day with irresistible and sustainable foods.
Vow’s biggest challenge right now? 
Learning to be a world-class manufacturer.
One other alt protein company you admire? 
Impossible Foods - love the product and how the early team applied a balance of science/engineering to food in a new way.
It’s the year 2040. Describe your typical lunch. 
A small piece of cultured meat that tastes amazing, but so decadent and nutritionally dense that I don’t been much of it. Plus a lot of local seasonal veggies.
Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore’s PM) are coming for dinner tomorrow. What are you serving? 
A little bit of cultured kangaroo and a lot of talking about how we have a once-in-a-millennium chance to permanently eliminate the idea that meat & animals are the same thing.
Favourite animal? 
The sloth, such wonderfully absurd creatures. 
Book, movie or podcast to recommend? 
I adore the podcast 99% Invisible, a fascinating look into the invisible design that is everywhere around us.
Advice for someone who wants to get into alt protein sector? 
Become a learning sponge. Reach out to founders and early employees of alt protein firms. They are typically incredible passionate and mission-driven. Follow GFI and New Harvest, make yourself an expert.
More resources & events
📒 The Good Food Institute India published a fresh edition of the India Good Food Startup Manual, a useful resource for new alternative protein entrepreneurs in India (download here)
📖 Food Frontier worked with Deloitte on the 2020 State of the Industry report on the Australian alt protein sector (download here)
💰 GFI APAC reported the total funding number for alt protein in APAC at US$206m in calendar 2020, close to US$230m from my earlier report in cooperation with Green Queen Media (more in Future Food Now #12), with the difference mostly due to slightly shifted reporting period (for details read GFI’s blog post here)
🎙️ My investment partner Simon Newstead interviewed David Bucca, founder of precision fermentation startup Change Foods for Episode #50 of his Vegan Startup Podcast (listen here)
🧫 Cellular Agriculture: Asia Summit 2021 event on May 20th features Ka-Yi Ling from Shiok Meats, Carrie Chan from Avant Meats, Vítor Espírito Santo from Eat Just and many others (use code FFN15 for 15% off registration here)
🗓️ Global Future Food-Tech: Alternative Proteins summit by Rethink Events on June 22-23rd will include a number of Asia Pacific speakers: Samantha Wong from Blackbird Ventures, Sonalie Figueiras from Green Queen Media, Manav Gupta from Brinc, Eugene Wang from Singapore’s Sophie BioNutrients and more (use code FF10 for 10% off registration here - early bird till May 7th)
🇳🇿 E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri Summit is the largest event of its kind in New Zealand, this year featuring co-founder of Shiok Meats, Sandhya Sriram (use code FFN for NZ$100 off in-person ticket or just register for a virtual ticket at NZ$99)
If you like this newsletter, please forward it to your friends and colleagues - or share it via social media. Thanks 🙏
Disclaimer: I invested in several companies mentioned in this newsletter, either directly or together with my investing partner Simon Newstead (specifically for this edition: Next Gen Foods / TiNDLE, Shiok Meats, Green Rebel Foods, Change Foods).
Did you enjoy this issue?
Michal Klar
By Michal Klar

Business news and deep dives into plant-based, cell-based and precision fermentation in Asia Pacific.

Covering: alt protein startups, funding, product launches, major events, consumer trends and more.

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