ADM and NTU Singapore launch Plant-based Perfection Challenge 2021 to promote plant protein

Cvrry has emerged as the champion of the Plant-based Perfection Challenge 2021, a competition that looks for the most innovative plant-based meat alternative that best represents Asia, with an associated business concept.

Jointly organised by ADM, a global leader in human and animal nutrition, and NTUitive, the innovation and enterprise company of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, the Plant-based Perfection Challenge aims to promote and popularise plant-based protein meat alternatives by challenging aspiring chefs and students to create the best dish tailored to Asian palates.

NTU’s support of the competition reflects its growing expertise in sustainable food and food technology, including its emerging role in driving Singapore’s food safety science capabilities with the launch of its Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) in April, in support of the nation’s growing food innovation ecosystem.

The Plant-based Perfection Challenge 2021 seeks to address the rapid growth of the global meat substitutes sector, which is estimated to be worth US$8.3bn, as consumers worldwide, especially in Asia, are increasingly adopting diets with less meat or meat-free lifestyles.

“As Asian consumers increase consumption of plantbased foods for their nutritional and environmental benefits, our partnership with NTUitive seeks to encourage and challenge students to develop innovative recipes using ADM’s proteins and flavours to create products that deliver on taste, texture and nutrition for a great eating experience,” said Mr Dirk Oyen, vice-president and general manager of South East Asia Human Nutrition, ADM.

Cvrry beat three other teams in the finals with their Cvrry Chicken Puff which was wrapped in a delicious crispy and delicate vegan pastry, combined with a spiced plantbased chicken and curried potato filling. The three-person team was awarded S$3,000 worth of cash prizes and opportunities with ADM, which include an internship, trial production with ADM ingredient solutions, and technical and regulatory support.

Out of the top four teams, three were made up of NTU students. In addition, NTUitive will offer support and opportunities to the winning teams in the form of access to funding and grants to spinoff the commercial potential, as well as continued mentorship.

XLBaos came in second place and received S$2,000, Temptations came in third and received S$1,000, and Vrab received S$300 worth of vouchers as a consolation prize.

“Our team believes that the versatility of plant-based food can be accentuated through simplicity. We are reinventing our favourite South East Asian snack, the humble curry puff, while sticking to our traditional roots. It is highly adaptable to appeal to various diets and cuisines, and can be eaten anytime, anywhere,” said Khoo Guo Chin, a member of team Cvrry.

Mr David Toh, interim chief executive officer of NTUitive, said: “The Plant-based Perfection Challenge has been an excellent avenue to expose our students to food innovation and its commercial potential. This competition enables our students to gain deeper insights into nutritional issues while developing implementable solutions through collaboration with industry experts from ADM.”

“With NTUitive providing continued support and access to resources beyond the competition, we hope this will inspire the students to embark on their entrepreneurial pursuits in the rising plant-based food industry, offering exciting new products to meet growing demand from consumers,” he added.

The Plant-based Perfection Challenge took place over six months and drew interest from students from various local universities, polytechnics, and tertiary institutions. A total of 16 teams competed in the competition, with four teams facing off against each other at the finals in the form of a cook-off on 25 August 2021 at Palate Sensations, while adhering to the various COVID-19 safe management measures. Audience members were able to watch the event live via Zoom.

Judges for the finals were notable individuals from the culinary and food innovation scene:

  • Mr Joshua Soo, chief executive officer, GROW
  • Chef Issachar Lee, manager (Culinary & Pastry), SHATEC
  • Mr Eelke Kroes, partner and senior innovation and venture strategist, Innoboost
  • Ms Lori Murphy, vice-president, Creation, Design & Development Asia Pacific Human Nutrition, ADM
  • Mr David Toh, interim chief executive officer, NTUitive