Plant- based in the spotlight (and lots of cooking!)
By Brigitte Zeller- Senior Strategy Consultant APAC
FHA-Food & Beverage is Asia’s largest food & drink event that brings together the global food and hospitality community. I did not plan to go originally, but a friend told me that he was amazed by so many plant products he did not know and I should visit this hall. I am very happy that I did. The last time I had been there, plant-based was just a niche- a few brands somewhere in a corner. Fast forward to this week in 2022, and bam! Plant-based had a dedicated space. A walk around the floor and you were overwhelmed by the messages and offerings. And the cooking. Live cooking everywhere! Plant-based brands seem to understand: plant-based or not, food is food and it really all comes down to taste. The consumer wants to know, is this something I actually want to eat? So with live cooking on the spot and many recipe demos, each company gave opportunities to taste. As a visitor at the FHA, you could decide for yourself if you like it or not. I walked the floor (with chopsticks in hand!), and here are my highlights for you:
Many meat alternative brands, when starting, take a “political” approach: talking about sustainability and all the good reasons for switching to plant-based. This is great but only for a certain type of consumer, which at the HMT, we call the ethical consumer. For the mass market, it’s all about convenience and taste. This is something that many brands seem to understand and move towards and I clearly saw this trend at this event.
I had the pleasure of meeting with the CEO of Impossible Burgers Singapore, and he said it loud and clear: “we are focusing on meat eaters and we want our product to taste exactly like meat. We don’t want to short-change the consumers of that meat taste.”
Then face to Impossible Burger, I stopped by Nestle’s Harvest Gourmet, made in Malaysia. They also focus on taste and talk about culinary experiences without forgetting positive nutrition (nutritional competitive advantage). Harvest’s Gourmet makes claims on high protein, source of fibre and trans-fat free. Another brand that stood out for me was Karana which makes jackfruit “minced meat”. They do many Asian recipes like gyozas but also Spanish chorizo and they work along with restaurant partners to develop constantly new recipes. Finally, I met Green Rebel, the no1 plant-based meat brand in Indonesia, an emerging and growing market for alternative meat. They claim to have “Asia’s 1st whole-cut steak”, which I, unfortunately, could not see (out-of-stock?).
I was excited to meet our client WhatIF Foods at their stand and taste their Bamnut milk. WhatIF Foods is asking: “What if food was made this way…” – it is a planet-based food company founded on regenerative principles. You can read here how we helped them shape their messaging and brand strategy.
And while WhatIF talks about the planet, another one of our clients, Oatly, whom we helped with their brand positioning some years ago (read about it here), is further building on the sustainability messaging they started with by adding taste and indulgence. Not only do they collaborate with baristas for coffee, but they tap into Asian traditions (localisation of taste) and talk about tea as well and how Oatly in your tea compliments it.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning Dirty Clean Food which is talking about regenerative Oatmilk, using regenerative farming practices in Australia that leave the soil in better condition after every crop. Oat milk that pours nutrients back into the earth.
I loved a healthy snacking brand from Australia called Human Bean Co. These are basically fava beans air puffed and crunchy. Beantastic! Then another product that got my attention was The Mood Food company, with fortified bars for kids as well as for adults that are addressing the mental well-being concern which is on the rise in Asia and the rest of the world. Finally, a New Zealand artisan bone broth was a great brand example where they reinvented tradition and invoked an ancient remedy for good health but with a modern twist. Inspiring product!
All in all, it was a great event, with a lot of innovative brands taking new approaches and bringing healthy and sustainable products to Asian consumers. Do you want to know more about trends in the Asian market and how to leverage them for your brand? Don’t hesitate to reach out, drop an email at email@example.com and UP your game in Asia!