Is Ingredients Innovation The Key To A Continued Plant-Based Boom?
Wednesday, July 20th, 2022
The plant-based economy looks set to continue booming. How should industry players continue to stay relevant and capitalise on the demand for plant-based meat? APFI Magazine speaks to Astrid Prajogo, Founder & CEO of Haofood, to understand more about riding the plant-based wave.
Variety is the spice of life. And it is true for many aspects of how we live, including what we eat. Throughout the last few years, a lot of things have been put on hold. The research and development of new plant-based alternative proteins seems to have flourished in the face of adversity from the last few pandemic stricken years. As Nielsen states in their growing demand for plant-based proteins study, The demand for plant-based meat alternatives in particular jumped 60% in just two years previous to July 2021, driven by better-tasting and more widely available products. Still, the products used to create the meat alternatives remain widely the same — soy beans and peas.
We founded Haofood to serve the growing Chinese plant-based market, which we believe will be able to deliver great impact to the planet, as China is the most populous country in the world. While plant-based meat is getting more popular in China, there are still huge gaps in consumer satisfaction towards its taste.
With demand increasing, so does the development of new products. Different flavours and textures offer consumers a better culinary experience with added health and sustainability benefits. Although the entire industry is growing and new players are entering the scene, we notice there is still huge room for all of us to innovate to increase consumers’ satisfaction with plant-based meat products in general.
For consumers in China, taste is the key factor in their decision to repurchase. Most people give up their path to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle with plant-based meat due to their disappointment with the taste of meat alternatives. An improved taste in plant-based meat will definitely help to convert even the meat lovers.
The key is to put innovation at the heart of research and development work. We are constantly trying new ingredients and different parameters to process the ingredients. Exploring nature and its amazing products are a part of what we do. A greater variety of ingredients brings about a better balanced diet and a healthier existence.
Focus areas in our research and development:
- Getting down to nature: Exploring and experimenting with different alternative protein ingredients that could give a different taste or texture. This contributes to providing exceptional culinary experience for consumers.
- Non-stop innovation: The way we approach our processes affects the overall taste and texture. How could we do things differently?
- A people-based approach: We employ the best of the best from the food industry. This enables us to create the most innovative products while we test and reinvent constantly along the way.
- Choosing the more sustainable plant-based proteins: For example, the peanuts we use for our alt protein chicken are the by-product of the huge peanut oil industry in China, making them a highly sustainable ingredient.
Why The Boom In Plant-Based Products?
The pandemic has put a keen focus on health and wellbeing, and people have tackled stresses, strains and restrictions by looking inward. They are reassessing what they eat as well as their environmental footprint on the planet.
A study by Market Data Centre found that the plant-based meat market was likely to grow at a CAGR of over 10% between 2022 and 2030.
Market Data Centre said, “The global plant-based food market is driven by increasing awareness about health consciousness among people; rising incidence of obesity, diabetics, & hypertension; increasing incidences of chronic diseases, ultimately resulting in people becoming particular about their eating habits. Moreover, the increased demand for organic & natural products is further boosting the plant-based food market. Plant-based food products are high in nutritional value and safe to consume; however, the high cost of such products may restrain market growth.”
To counter the cost issue, it is therefore necessary to explore using different and more accessible ingredients. By turning to nutritious but lower cost alternatives, like our use of the by-product of the peanut oil industry, we can introduce plant-based products into everyone’s daily lives.
The plant-based boom is great, but we need to continue finding new ways for a better product experience. The aim is to excite this growing market, or customers will not be brought along the journey. New ingredients with different flavours and textures can revolutionise the industry — imagine seeing plant-based products used by everyone, from the top chefs in the best restaurants to BBQ enthusiasts in local towns!
Co-Founders of Haofood (left to right): Astrid Prajogo, Jenny Zhu, Kasih Chen and Dr Shaowei Liu
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