Producers of meat alternatives like plant-based or lab-grown meat have gone through challenging times to see their products gaining acceptance in the marketplace. One major reason for this is the wide availability of fresh and frozen meat, which is often believed to be cheaper, tastier and more versatile in food preparations.
As a result, companies like Monde Nissin has no choice but to provide financial support to its meat alternative business in the next 10 years to cushion the impact of losses at its wholly-owned Singapore subsidiary, Monde Nissin Singapore Pte. Ltd., which is the owner of alternative meat company Quorn Foods. There could also be a possibility that Monde Nissin might dispose its meat alternative business in the near future.
Another player, US-based Beyond Meat has revised downward its sales projections amidst weakening demand and it is also planning to reduce its manpower by 8%. Beyond Meat offers Beyond Burger which now experiences considerable decline in demand. The company is also undergoing a restructuring in China and streamlining its product range. On 2 October 2023, the company revealed a loss of approximately US$8 million.
Meanwhile, some companies are trying to rein-in costs while putting extra efforts on innovations and a cleaner label to win consumer interests.
China-based Haofood, for instance, is focusing on innovations to boost product taste and affordability. Haofood is optimistic that plant-based meats, just like tofu, will have a sweet spot for consumers in China, especially as they get more and more health-conscious. There is also a need to understand the consumers better. According to Astrid Prajogo, Founder and CEO of Haofood, “Research has shown that the key considerations for Chinese consumers when purchasing meat are health and safety, followed by taste and quality, and last but not least, price. We need to first understand their concerns and drive our product innovations to address them.” The use of additives to deliver the meat-like flavor and texture will not attract consumer interest, while it does not make sense for consumers to pay a higher price for products that don’t taste as good as the real thing. Haofood’s Carefree Pulled Chickless peanut-based variation is claimed to be free from preservatives and additives, and it also boasts a savory flavor and high in protein and low in calories, fat and sodium.
According to Astrid, peanut protein has the highest content of glutamic acid (19.9%) and aspartic acid (14.1%), which are amino acids known to enhance flavour and provide health benefits.
Finally, Netherland-based food tech, Meatable has managed to reduce costs and raise production efficiency of its cultivated pork products, which are on course to be launched in Singapore, starting with restaurants, in 2024. Singapore is Meatable first production site outside Netherlands. Meatable’s patented opti-ox technology, used in combination with pluripotent stem cells, enables the cell-to-sausage process to complete in just 8 days, a rate 30 times faster than traditional pig rearing. Meatable is ready to scale up the production of its products at a cost-competitive price point to reach mass market demand. The only obstacle to cultivated meat right now is getting the regulatory approval for market access. Currently, only Singapore and the US permit the sale of cultivated meat.