Flexitarians Drive Demand For Meat Alternatives In Asia

Monday, November 29th, 2021

Radicle™ by Kerry’s plant-based solutions can meet Asia’s rising consumer calls for meat alternatives, offering tastier and more sustainable options.

New research produced by Kerry, the world’s leading taste and nutrition company, has revealed that over 60 percent of consumers in the Asia Pacific region are interested in purchasing plant-based meat alternatives. According to the new study, which was conducted with 3,700 people across 10 countries, 62 percent of consumers in the region are interested in plant-based meat alternatives while 44 percent intend to increase their consumption of these products. Kerry’s APAC Consumer Study 2021 also showed that 32 percent of consumers are actively trying to cut meat consumption, while a further 28 percent have already cut their meat consumption significantly. 

This doesn’t mean flexitarians are entirely giving up on meat. What it implies is that meat is moving from a functional diet space to an emotional one. 

The Cultural Significance Of Meat

Meat holds a particular significance in the Asian culture—it is to be savoured, usually as a delicacy or as part of an indulgent meal. In the region, meat is a symbol of pleasure and status attainment. Being able to afford and consume quality meat represents, firstly, a break from restrictive customs and ideologies of the past and, secondly, embracing a more Western lifestyle associated with greater wealth. As Asians become wealthier, increasingly secular and culturally fluid, increased meat consumption represents freedom and cultural cosmopolitanism in a culinary sense and beyond. 

With cultural and emotional aspects attached to eating meat, consumers expect meat alternatives to deliver the same experience and enjoyment meat offers, especially in taste and texture. However, experiences with current meat alternatives fall short of expectations.

Examining The Shift In Consumer Eating Habits

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers in Asia are now more conscious of food safety, health, and the environment as they look for greater assurance about their food, and actively seek to make dietary changes to live more healthily and sustainably. Driving the plant-based shift from niche to mainstream in the region is the flexitarian, a growing consumer group who enjoys both meat and plant-based foods and will not compromise on the taste and texture. 

Ronan Moloney, VP & GM, Food and Meat, Kerry Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa comments: “Asia is currently the second largest region in the world for plant-based meat alternatives, accounting for 22 percent of global sales by value and it is expected that it will be the world’s largest market by 2025. However, this new research reveals a significant unmet need in Asia regarding providing consumers with the alternatives that they want. Consumers are seeking products that have superior taste, texture, and nutrition, while also aligning with local or regional cuisines or tastes. However, many fall short of these expectations with 70 percent of consumers in the Asia Pacific region saying that the taste and texture of current meat alternatives do not match that of real meat, but adding that they would make plant-based foods a regular part of their diet if this were resolved. Brands can capitalise on this growing demand by creating innovative products that meet consumer needs across taste, texture, and sustainability.”

Kerry’s New Plant-Based Solution

Radicle™ by Kerry takes a holistic approach across four pillars: Taste, with taste systems developed for plant protein to mask off notes and build delicious savoury taste; functionality, focused on texture, performance and freshness for the best eating experience; sustainability, with plant bases containing functional and sensorial benefits; and nutrition for enriched, nutritionally-optimised plant-based products.

“While taste is the most important attribute for plant-based foods, creating delicious plant-based meat alternatives that resonate with consumers can be a complex, costly and challenging process, particularly around savoury taste and creating succulence, juiciness and a moreish flavour. ‘Radicle™ by Kerry’ enables manufacturers to create and deliver sustainable food and beverage products that are nutritionally optimized with cleaner labels, authentic taste, and appealing texture. With a growth of more than 20 percent in meat alternative launches in Southeast Asia from 2019 to 2020, there is no doubt that Asia presents a good opportunity for innovative, tasty products that consumers will want as their first choice, and not the alternative,” concludes Mr Moloney.

The food industry is poised for disruption—with plant-based as the new food revolution. At Kerry, our goal is to create a world of sustainable nutrition for over 2 billion people by 2030. We bring to the table our strong food heritage, coupled with more than 40 years of experience, global insights and market knowledge, culinary and applications expertise, as well as a range of unique, sustainable solutions that anticipate and address our customers’ needs.

To learn more about Kerry’s plant-based solutions, scan the code below!

‘Meat’ing Consumer Expectations In The Plant-Based Space: A Guide For Formulators

  1. Begin by dialling up the emotive appeal of plant-based meat alternatives.
  2. Offer consumers desirable flavour profiles using chefs, flavourists and sensory scientists to create delicious alternatives that consumers will love.
  3. Be in the know of evolving consumer and nutritional trends shaping the protein category. For example, improving the nutritional profile of meat alternatives to meet consumer expectations for healthier products.
  4. Provide a sustainable balance of different vegetable protein sources—such as pea, seitan and lupin—to create wider appeal.
  5. Produce new formats—burgers and sausages currently dominate the retail landscape. As consumers become more adventurous, new products will further attract them and be an easy introduction to plant-based foods.


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