Plant-based meat titans Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat face local competition as they expand into Asia

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Credit: Empress

From lab-grown “seafood” to dumplings made with tropical fruit instead of pork, rising demand for sustainable meat alternatives in Asia is spawning creative products to appeal to local palates.

Demand for plant-based alternatives is still nascent in Asia, but is nevertheless rising by about 30 percent annually and is particularly strong in developed markets such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, industry players say.

US alternative meat titans have already seen the opportunity in Asia, with Impossible Foods seeking to establish a presence in China and rival Beyond Meat, which makes plant-based burgers, planning to open a production facility in the region.

Related article:  Podcast: Food snobbery vs the Impossible Burger: A skeptical look at health claims about plant-based meat

But they face competition from local startups, who are thinking beyond simply making faux burgers, and may be better in tune with what consumers want in a diverse region that is fiercely proud of its culinary traditions.

Singapore-based startup Sophie’s BioNutrients is working with scientists at a local university to grow microalgae in nutrient-rich soybean residue, a from the food processing industry. They plan to convert the algae to protein powder, which will then be used to make imitation seafood products, such as fish balls and crab.

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