By Samah Garringer, business unit director, proteins of the future at DSM
Flexitarianism — a movement in which consumers reduce, rather than eliminate the consumption of meat and animal protein — is increasingly common. A growing focus on nutrition and healthy eating has led to a notable 73% of global consumers making firm plans to eat and drink more healthily, with reduced meat and dairy consumption becoming commonplace. In fact, approximately 25% of all age groups globally are starting to follow a more flexitarian diet, creating opportunities and challenges alike for food producers worldwide.
Nowhere are these opportunities and challenges more evident than in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently home to 4.3 billion people, this figure is projected to increase to 5.3 billion by 2050. The challenge of feeding this increasing population is a significant one; while the region is home to 60% of the world’s population, it contains just 20% of its agricultural land. There is a long history of consuming alternative proteins such as tempeh and tofu in the Asia-Pacific region. However, recent concerns around the health, sustainability and environmental impact of ingredients such as soy has led to consumers seeking out new ways to fulfil their protein needs.
A new frontier for alternative proteins
As its population grows, so too does interest in and adoption of alternative proteins throughout Asia-Pacific. The region is fast becoming a global centre for the research and development of alternative proteins, with Singapore in particular acting as an industry hub. This is partly due to the support of the Singaporean government, which was the first to approve the sale of lab-grown meat and which provides food tech research facilities and state-backed investment for alternative protein start-ups to innovate and develop new products. However, such developments must happen quickly and at scale in order to be competitive. While there is willingness in the region to adopt new ways of eating, there is currently a lack of infrastructure in place to meet production demand and drive down the cost to consumers relative to animal proteins5. With a vast and increasing future market to be served, it is clear that food manufacturers must innovate in order to find new ways to reach Asia-Pacific’s increasingly sophisticated consumers. Alternative protein is a key part of this strategy, with plant-based manufacturers diversifying their portfolios with new products that cater to a global audience.
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