For a region that tends to be more meat-oriented in its diet, Asia is quickly becoming the next regional hub for the plant-based food and beverage market. This industry is segmented into many subcategories, including meat substitutes, dairy alternatives, and more. It is gaining steady traction across Asia as more people jump onto the plant-based food bandwagon.
In a recent market report on the forecast for the global plant-based food and beverage market for 2021–2028, it was reported that analysts expect the industry to see a compound annual growth rate of 9.29% over the next six years. In 2020, North America was the region that held the largest share of the pie, but it is predicted that this will shift drastically in the next couple of years, as it is estimated that the plant-based market in Asia Pacific will experience a 200% surge by 2025.
Asia has already seen steady growth in the plant-based market: in 2019, it was worth US$15.3 billion. That figure saw a significant surge when COVID-19 struck, as more people in Asia turned towards a plant-based diet due to concerns over food safety. As a result, it was projected that the region would be worth US$17.1 billion in 2020 – an 11.6% increase from the previous year.
China is a leading contributor to this growth in Asia. The country is responsible for 28% of global meat consumption and it has a meat industry worth US$86 billion, but it is making waves globally for its drive to reduce meat consumption. When the pandemic was at its peak, China saw a surge in demand for plant-based alternatives. One year into the pandemic, meat substitutes are still being served at home and in popular restaurants, indicating a probable shift in Chinese diet trends and consumer behaviours.
For example, popular fast-food chain KFC has begun selling vegan nuggets in China after its trial run of the product proved to be highly successful: its pre-sale coupons sold out within an hour of the launch. Plant-based stores and restaurants, such as Green Common, launched by entrepreneur David Yeung, have also become sought after in China, with the Chinese queueing up to get a spot during mealtimes.
Yeung, who was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Social Entrepreneurs in 2018, managed to raise US$70 million from investors last year to support his drive to take plant-based food and beverages to the next level. His securing of such a massive sum to push his business plan indicates the potential and direction for Asia concerning this industry.
For a country that has been at the epicentre of several epidemics and pandemics, the Chinese government appears to have given the nod of approval to its people to move towards plant-based diets. This is especially clear from the government’s guidelines aiming to reduce meat consumption across the country by half.
Singapore is another country in Asia that is positioning itself to be a hub for the plant-based market. With the progressive technology that this city-state has to offer, Singapore has become the ideal location for businesses within this industry to invest in, and many are using it as a location for their headquarters.
For example, Eat Just, an American start-up, is eyeing Singapore for its manufacturing hub in order to launch its cultured meat products into the Asian market. Other businesses and start-ups – such as Green Common, which launched in Singapore early this year, food tech company Next Gen, and several others – will also be making their debut in the months to come.
The steady growth that Asia is making in this industry, coupled with the technological advancements in the region, allow it to position itself as the best locale for plant-based businesses to set up shop. It is expected that this upward trend will continue over many years to come as the demand for plant-based food and beverages continues to grow in Asia.
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