The market of plant-based proteins in Asia Pacific

The market of plant-based proteins in Asia Pacific

Meat analogue, also known as meat substitute or mock meat, is not new in Asia. The introduction of meat analogues emerged in 6th century AD, influenced by the restricted diet from Chinese Buddhism back in those days. Traditionally, wheat-gluten or soy-based products were common ingredients found in meat analogues. Classic examples are Tempeh in Indonesia; a traditional fermented soy-based food originated from Java and soy milk in Japan; a conventional ingredient used to make yuba (curdled soymilk) which was usually eaten alone or cut thinly and prepared with vegetables. These products have been used throughout Asia as poverty disallow individuals to have access to animal meat as well as dietary restriction for religious purposes. As such, plant-based foods  were more affordable, functional and nutritious protein sources for this population1.


Today the potential of this market is confirmed

Over the years, plant-based meats have evolved  to achieve more meat-like appearance and texture. In the present climate, soy-based meat analogue products have garnered the largest market share in Asia, where other rising proteins like pea, mycoproteins or lab-grown cultured meat are also attracting attention in this region. To appeal to mainstream meat-eaters, plant-based meat products were made to mimic people’s favorite foods in familiar formats like burger patties and sausages2.

Today, consumers eating habits undergo profound changes due to an increasing concern for health, environment and ethical topics. As a result, they want to consume more responsibly by reducing their consumption of animal products. According to Euromonitor, there are a total of 4.98 million vegetarian in APAC, with India having the largest vegetarian population of 3.68 million in this region3.


Here is how the market is made up

Back in 2010, 53% of meat substitute launches in APAC came with vegetarian claims, targeting a very niche group of consumers. Vegetarian diet is defined as no consumption of meat and a diet consisting of vegetables, grains and sometimes eggs and dairy products. Traditional mock meats have faced image issue due to its highly processes nature and low nutritional value. However, over the past 5 years, mock meat launches started to move towards GMO free and vegan/no animal ingredient direction. Starting from 2015, Asia Pacific is a rising market into “flexitarian” dieters, who substitute meat in their diet with plant-based protein from time to time. This newfound interest in plant-based foods offers lucrative growth opportunities in this segment4.

According to a study from Global Data, in 2018 in Asia, the meat alternatives market value represents 927 million dollars and 59 million dollars in Australasia, with respectively a 4,2% and 2,4% estimated CAGR between 2018 & 20235. As the growth of plant-based diet is expected to grow, it is influenced by multiple factors such as:

  • Health & Wellness: some 36% of Thai consumers eat protein substitutes compared to 10% who do it for religious or cultural purposes. While in Japan, there are over 53% of Japanese consumers have tried plant-based foods in search of a healthier lifestyle6. Health concern was also the number one reason Australians and New Zealanders chose to consume fewer meat, as reported in a consumer research by Colmar Brunton7.
  • Ethics & Environment: Post covid-19 survey shows 49% of South Koreans agree that plant-based foods are better for the environment than meat and dairy products. Apart from this, some Mintel survey on the frequency of food behaviors with 1000 respondents revealed that 33% from India limit their meat intake all the time8.
  • Trust in food safety: Concerned with the global epidemics and concerns over food safety, consumers are more selective in the foods they consume. As per last year due to swine fever, the pork meat supply was abrupted and caused inflationary pressure on food prices in Asia, it induces secondary effect where consumers substitute pork with alternative food types like other meats or plant-based alternatives9.


Develop products by addressing to these values and interests is ideal to breakthrough in the plant protein space. Biospringer has increased our technical capability to bring solutions to the market. Our team in Asia Pacific, from Singapore, has been developing dedicated yeast extracts portfolio by creating new recipes such as plant-based chicken nuggets and vegan mayonnaise, in order to meet consumers expectations.

To have more information about these recipes

  1. Euromonitor International, Plant-based Meat Substitutes: Opportunities and Challenges in Southeast Asia, 2020
  2. Ismail, I., Hwang, Y. H., & Joo, S. T. (2020). Meat analog as future food: a review. Journal of animal science and technology62(2), 111–120.
  3. Euromonitor International, Vegetarian Population: Euromonitor International from European Vegetarian and Animal News Alliance (EVANA), European Vegetarian Union, national sources, 2020
  4. Mintel, The future of meat in Asia: animal, plant-based or cell-based?, 2020
  5. Global Data, 2018
  6. Asia Fund Managers, Japan: Vegan Food’s Growing Popularity Spurs Industry Innovation, 2020
  7. Food Frontier, A Guide for Consumers: Introducing Plant-Based Meat, 2019
  8. Mintel Interactive Databooks, Food Tracker: Frequency of Food Behaviours, 2020
  9. Singapore Business Review, Pork Production in Southeast Asia Plunges as African Swine Fever Spreads, 2019