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Future Food Now: Asia-Pacific (#3)

Welcome to Issue #3 Plant-based and cell-based business is clearly picking up across Asia Pacific - j
Future Food Now: Asia-Pacific (#3)
By Michal Klar • Issue #3 • View online
Welcome to Issue #3
Plant-based and cell-based business is clearly picking up across Asia Pacific - just look at the amount of new products introduced and startups expanding!
If you like this newsletter, please share it with others - it is the best way for me to get more subscribers.
Thanks - Michal

JUST Egg launches in Singapore with record-breaking sales
JUST Egg launched at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt in early November, initially available from a food truck in front of the hotel, as part of a plant-based “egg sandwich”.
Nearly 3,400 sandwiches were sold in three days, according to Jerome Pagnier, Director of F&B at Grand Hyatt Singapore. That is slightly more than Beyond Burgers during a similar launch event at the same venue in August.
Singapore it the second international market for JUST Egg (after Hong Kong). Some of JUST Inc. executives came to town for the launch, while CEO Josh Tetrick described Singapore as “one of the most innovative and transformative places on the planet” and “Asia’s greenest city”, adding:
We’re proud to bring JUST Egg to its citizens and visitors with Grand Hyatt as our first partner.
JUST Egg is now part of a regular menu of Oasis restaurant at Grand Hyatt Singapore.
JUST Egg sandwich (photo credit: Livekindly)
JUST Egg sandwich (photo credit: Livekindly)
Omnipork now at 50+ outlets in HK & Macau, soon in Singapore
Plant-based ground pork alternative, Omnipork from HK-based startup Right Treat, is expanding rapidly. According o the company, the product is now available at over 50 restaurant outlets across Hong Kong and Macau.
The recently added venues include Mexican Verde Mar as well as popular Chinese eateries Food Expression, Chongqing Liuyishou Hotpot and Meat-Pie-Gor with more in the pipeline.
Over in Macau, Sands China is offering Omnipork dishes at 10 restaurants located in several of their hotels.
On November 16th, Omnipork will officially launch in Singapore. The launch event will again take place at Grand Hyatt, but the product will also be available at selected restaurant partners including HRVST, Winestone and Food Exchange (at Novotel).
The company also told me they expect to start selling Omnipork in retail stores in Hong Kong by the end of November.
Omnipork dish at Food Expression, Hong Kong
Omnipork dish at Food Expression, Hong Kong
Plant-based mince sells in the meat aisle at AU & NZ supermarkets
New alt-protein product category has appeared this year at Australian and New Zealand supermarkets: a plant-based mince.
In New Zealand, an animal-based meat company Fisher Meats launched a new brand The Craft Meat Co in October, offering the country’s first 100% plant-based “No-meat mince”, made from soy and wheat as well as almonds and mushrooms plus beetroot for colour. Relatively affordable at ~US$5.30 for 350g package, it is sold at all major supermarkets.
In Australia, a similar product called Minced sold under Funky Fields brand has been launched in June. It is imported from Denmark and available exclusively at Woolworths, a major supermarkets chain with ~1,000 locations.
The source close to the distributor told me that the Funky Fields’ product is selling better than Woolworths expected and quickly became one of the best performing SKUs per shelf space. It seems to be doing so well thanks to the placement - it is sold in the meat aisle, right next to animal-based mince, attracting the attention of “flexitarian” consumers. The same source explained that based on the in-store data, sales of Minced in the meat aisle is 3-5x higher compared to the same product placed in the vegetarian section. It is priced on par with premium animal-based mince products, which surely helps.
Based on the success of Funky Fields’ Minced, Woolworths is planning to introduce many more plant-based products to its shelves in the near future, said the source.
Another company also recently announced plans to bring plant-based mince products to Asia Pacific markets.
Singapore's original plant-based chain eyes Indonesia
Plant-based fast food chain VeganBurg has been the first of its kind in Singapore and the region when it launched eight years ago. Coincidently, I first moved to Asia only days after they opened their original outlet - and lived a mere 3 minutes walk from it.
With company-owned restaurants in Singapore and San Francisco, VeganBurg is now looking to expand in South East Asia via franchise model - with the initial focus on Indonesia.
Indonesia’s market for plant-based dining is still relatively small, considering huge urban population. Jakarta’s plant-based fast casual chain, Burgreens currently operates 5 outlets with 2 more opening over next few months. Bali has a robust plant-based dining scene, but catering almost exclusively to tourists.
I talked to the founder and CEO of VeganBurg, Alex Tan to learn more about their plans.
Michal Klar (MK): Welcome to FFN, Alex. Why did you choose Indonesia as your next market?
Alex Tan (AT): Indonesia is an exciting new market for us because half of its population is aged between 18-34, it has a flourishing middle class and a bolstering economy. Indonesian millennials are why there is a thriving vegan and eco-friendly scene in Bali and across Indonesia. Jakarta and Bali are definitely on top of our list.
MK: You took part in a recent Franchise and Licence Expo in Jakarta. How was the response? Have you already found partners or potential franchisees?
AT: The feedback that we received from FLEI was better than we expected. We’ve had lots of people come up to us and tell us how they see the rise of plant-based options in South East Asia - there’s definitely a huge spike in interest for franchising. We’re hoping to find the right partner/master franchisee in Indonesia by the end of 2019. We are also looking into Malaysia and the Philippines.
MK: Are you considering offering branded third-party products, like Beyond Burger at VeganBurg?
AT: We want to stay focused on making the best stores and the best burgers. As for partnering with third-party plant-based meat and food technology brands, this is something that we’re keen to explore.
MK: Thanks for the interview, Alex.
Alex Tan, CEO and Founder of VeganBurg
Alex Tan, CEO and Founder of VeganBurg
Beyond Burger to launch in Australian supermarkets
Daily Mail reports that Beyond Burger will roll out in major supermarket chains in Australia in early November. The product has been so far available only at several specialised stores like The Cruelty Free Shop in limited quantities as well as plant-based fast food chain Lord of the Fries.
It is now coming to selected IGA stores across Australia and selected Coles supermarkets in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state that includes Sydney metro area. According to Coles’ social media comments, it is a regional trial and if successful, the nation-wide rollout will follow.
Australian company takes its plant-based milk to South East Asia
Freedom Foods Group, Australian food company with market cap of AU$1.3b (US$940m), offering a wide range of products including plant-based milk, is establishing new offices across South East Asia - adding Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia to existing one in Singapore.
Rory Macleod, Managing Director, told Food Navigator Asia:
We are seeing clear growing demand for plant-based beverages and foods in South East Asia and China.
The company’s plant-based milk brands include Australia’s Own for retail and MilkLab, developed for coffee and barista market. According to Rory, the latter “has seen very strong growth in food service in Australia” and “is starting to pick up in SEA region, where takers include Starbucks in Malaysia”.
The group also recently introduced pea-protein-based Like Milk in Australia, claiming it is matching both calcium and protein content of dairy milk with much lower sugar and fat levels.
Air NZ serves 3,000 Impossible Burgers so far, revamps the offering
Earlier this year, Air New Zealand became the first airline to serve the Impossible Burger. It has been offered to business class passengers on Los Angeles-Auckland routes. The announcement inspired a short-lived public debate involving NZ’s meat industry representatives and even some politicians.
The airline’s comms team told me they served “close to 3,000” Impossible Burgers since the launch in July. According to Niki Chave, Inflight Customer Experience Manager, “the Impossible Burger has been a real favourite”.
Air New Zealand decided to refresh the offering - the Impossible’s product is now available on a different flight (SFO-AKL), and instead of a larger burger, it is served as three “bite sized sliders”.
New Impossible sliders on Air NZ flight from SFO to AKL
New Impossible sliders on Air NZ flight from SFO to AKL
"Future Food" event in Korea features speakers from Memphis, Impossible, Shiok
This year’s Innovation & Sustainability Conference in Seoul for the first time included “Future Foods” track.
The organisers managed to attract an impressive line-up of plant-based and cell-based startups from the US and Asia, including Memphis Meats, Impossible Foods, Ocean Hugger Foods, GoodDot (India) and Shiok Meats (Singapore) as well as support from A+ Centre, a Korean agency focused on agri-tech startups.
Korean plant-based market is still tiny, but there are some early signs of consumer demand picking up: Almond Breeze’s partnership with a local conglomerate, Starbucks introducing plant-based options and the country’s first 100% plant-based food retail store in Seoul. Like all countries in East Asia, Korea also has a long tradition of plant-based Buddhist temple cuisine, which is a small, but integral part of the country’s culinary culture.
November in SG: Green Monday, Agri-Food Innovation Week
This November is a happening month for plant-based industry in Singapore.
On Nov 16th, a Hong Kong social enterprise Green Monday is launching in SG, partnering with 20+ restaurants with 80+ outlets in the city to offer new plant-based menu options, some of them featuring Beyond Meat and Omnipork.
On Nov 27-29th, Rethink Agri-Food Innovation Week event will include presentations and panels on cell-based meat (featuring Shiok Meats, Integriculture, Future Meat Technologies and BlueNalu, moderated by Elaine Siu from The Good Food Institute) and on plant-based proteins (with Josh Tetrick from JUST as well as several protein and ingredient companies like Wilmar, ADM and Triton Algae, moderated by yours truly).
I will be in town for both, please reach out if you want to connect!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Michal Klar

Monthly digest of plant-based business news from Asia-Pacific.

Covering: plant-based and cell-based startups, funding, new products, major events, consumer trends and more.

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