The rapid growth of plant based proteins in Asia

ADM recently opened a plant-based innovation lab in Singapore to showcase their commitment to localising plant-based solutions to meet the nutritional challenges of changing taste and preference in Asia and around the world. Sarah Lim, marketing director of South East Asia at ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) Human Nutrition, shares how ADM continues to provide more extensive solutions to the growing appetite of plant-based proteins in Asia.

The lunch spread includes food such as the spicy otah, which was made with ADM’s plant-based fish and coconut custard.
(Photo Courtesy of ADM)

According to AgFunder’s ASEAN Agrifoodtech Investment Report 2020, one of the world’s most active foodtech and agtech venture capitals, a total of US$423 million was invested into South East Asian agrifoodtech startups in 2019, across 99 deals. This means that the region’s ecosystem has yet to reach the maturity of markets such as North America, Europe, and China; the majority of dealmaking activity took place at seed stage.

Sarah Lim, marketing director of South East Asia at ADM Human Nutrition

In fact, in 2019, there were 63 agrifoodtech seed fundings in the region, raising a total of US$39 million. Sarah Lim, marketing director of South East Asia at ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) Human Nutrition (a global leader in human and animal nutrition and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company), shared: “The plant-based market in APAC is expected
to surge by 200% by 20251, as more consumers have a heightened awareness of health and are looking for a diversity of products that prioritise taste, texture and nutrition. As such, people have become more health conscious and are looking for more options to better understand how food impacts their overall health.

This is exciting as not only is it growing, but plant-based options have grown “beyond the bun”, which includes more alternatives including seafoods like shellfish and shrimp, plant-based cheeses, ready-to-eat protein snacks and more, as consumer demand continues to grow.”

With the rise of flexitarianism, plantbased alternatives have seen tremendous growth. This is significantly apparent when looking at the current market size as well as at the variety of products available in the supermarkets. Even largescale global food service providers have plant-based options on their menus now, which a few years ago was unthinkable.

“It is clear that taste, texture and overall experience are, as always, very important, but this is amplified when we are catering to the flexitarian consumer. Recent studies completed by ADM have shown that flexitarians expect the same eating experience from plant-based products as they would get from their animal protein equivalents. This raises the bar for product developers who now not only have to create great tasting products but are also expected to get as close as possible to the animal protein equivalent
version,” explained Lim.

As these products continue to develop and more investment money flow into the industry, ADM continues to see new and exciting products emerge. This will enable more and more consumers to find the products that match their expectations. “I can see a future where there are so many plant-based options on the market that everyone can find something they like. In the end, maybe everyone will be more of a flexitarian,” remarked Lim.

Through ADM Ventures, an advisory firm focused on digital and hi-tech companies, the company seeks to create functional and clean-label ingredient portfolios that advance the growth strategy of ADM by both investing in and collaborating with start-ups that are focused on improving human and animal health and nutrition.

Darren Streiler, managing director of ADM Ventures

“ADM Ventures invests in cutting-edge start-ups with disruptive technologies across five key areas: human nutrition, health & wellness or microbiome, animal nutrition, sustainability and biomaterials, and agriculture technologies,” explained Darren Streiler, managing director of ADM Ventures.

Continue reading here. Published in Food & Beverage Asia April/May 2021 issue.