The rapidly growing Alternative Proteins Segment in the Asia Pacific is projected to reach US$248.8 billion by 2030 registering a double-digit annual growth of 15.13%.
However, just like any other industry, the alternative protein category is not without its own set of challenges and not all manufacturers will be able to succeed and thrive in this market. The key strategy for success is to be able to understand their consumers well in terms of their buying patterns, flavour preferences, and their needs in terms of nutrition and sustainability goals.
ADM, in its latest report has identified 4 factors that drive the expansion of the alternative protein category. AFBR has interviewed Susan Chua, Head of Market & Consumer Insights, Asia Pacific at ADM to gain deeper insights into this report and the following are excerpts from the interview with her.
1. Can you elaborate further on the 4 factors that drive the expansion of the alternative protein segment with specific relevance to the Asia Pacific region?
A secure food system is critical to feed the world’s rapidly growing population, and expanded protein choices can help to create a more resilient food system for future generations. ADM has identified 4 factors that meet consumers’ evolving needs and are driving the expansion of the alternative protein ecosystem. The four factors are
Anticipating the Next Wave of Advancements
- According to ADM Outside VoiceSM, today’s consumers have grown familiar with plant-based products and are eager for additional options. They are increasingly more curious and open to trying different protein options, without placing as much importance on the protein source itself.
- Our research found that more than 70% of global consumers and 84% of consumers in China are most interested to try plant-based meat/dairy alternatives and plant-based specialised nutrition products derived from fermentation, hybrid protein sources and plant-based novel ingredients.
Championing Consumer Adoption
- Understanding the unique consumer motivations and purchase drivers amongst Asia-Pacific consumers is crucial for the adoption of alternative proteins in the region.
- For example, hybrid alternative proteins are relatively new to the market. Being a lesser-known alternative protein, communicating transparency will help consumers understand important details to encourage consumer adoption i.e., sourcing or production methods of these proteins, protein composition, etc.
- It will also help consumers be familiar with hybrid alternative proteins which can facilitate wider acceptance of these innovative food products.
Bridging the Gap to Better Nutrition
- Our ADM Outside VoiceSM research found that 73% of global plant consumers perceived taste and nutrition to be equally important for plant-based protein products.
- This presents an opportunity to improve the sensory experience and nutrient density of alternative protein products and develop alternative protein with fibre or microbiome-supporting solutions that are important to consumers.
Solving Accessibility with a Tailored Approach
- With global food insecurity and inflation shifting consumer purchasing habits, affordability, accessibility and tailored applications are vital to promoting a resilient food system.
- Of the 53% of Asia-Pacific consumers who said that they made changes to their diet to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, 67% of them turned to locally sourced food and drinks. In fact, 81% of consumers in the region are willing to pay extra for food and drink products with a shortened supply chain.
2. One of the major factors identified by ADM is ‘Championing Consumer Adoption’. Specifically, when looking at the Asia Pacific region, what can manufacturers consider when looking at the type of ingredients that can be applied in alternative protein products?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to alternative protein – manufacturers must innovate and advance the taste and texture of plant-based offerings to aid consumer acceptance and retention. This is becoming more achievable through the use of emerging and well-known protein sources.
Asia Pacific (APAC) manufacturers can consider incorporating some of the following ingredients to give them an edge in delivering products:
- When it comes to alternative meat applications, APAC consumers are seeking ingredients such as peas, soy and chickpeas.
- For alternative dairy such as plant-based cheese, consumers are seeking oat, peas and mycoprotein. Meanwhile, popular ingredients in plant-based ice cream include oat and mycoprotein.
- For alternative snacks, consumers are looking out for ingredients like quinoa and plant milk. For snack bars, popular ingredients include chia seeds, oats and flaxseeds. (see Chart 1.0 – 5.0 below for more details on breakdown by countries)
3. What can ADM offer to its customers to facilitate consumer adoption of F&B products with alternative proteins?
ADM has an unrivalled portfolio of high-quality protein ingredients from over 30 wholesome sources, offering Asia-Pacific manufacturers virtually every type of plant-based protein they need to give consumers the great taste, texture and nutrition they demand.
With more than 75 years of expertise in alternative protein development, ADM’s technical protein experts work side-by-side with brands to deliver products that meet the taste and texture preferences of consumers in the region.
As an end-to-end solutions partner, we help companies source everything from raw ingredients and innovating alternative protein, to scaling up and converting existing infrastructure into one that is suitable for their consumer needs.
4. In the next 10 years, how does ADM foresee the market for Alternative Proteins to be like in the Asia Pacific region?
Consumers in this region are more open to trying emerging protein alternative options. They want more convenient and diverse formats that meet their health and wellness goals, and alternative proteins – including combinations of different proteins – can help achieve this. Plus, combining multiple types of proteins together can help elevate different sensory aspects and create even more desirable offerings in the region.
As this category expands and continues to shift in the coming years, we’re seeing more interest in advancements in protein alternatives to shellfish, cheese and ready-to-eat protein snacks. Beyond applications, processes like fermentation and new technologies like 3D printing are spurring inventive creativity. Plant-based innovation and hybrid products are likely to play a key role in reimagining existing and new alternative protein products as consumers perceive them to be familiar, less processed and safe for consumption.
Alternative protein innovation is only beginning, and its future holds promise with many different techniques and applications as research increases and consumer acceptance grows.
 ADM Outside VoiceSM, Global Protein Consumer Discovery Report, January 2023
 FMCG Gurus, Route to Sustainability Report, 2022