Plant-based meat popularity fuels new ventures in Thailand

The appeal of plant-based meat production continues to rise as companies recognise the lucrative potential of this burgeoning sector.

The opportunity to tap into a new revenue stream and cater to health-conscious consumers has led to collaborations between local entrepreneurs, scientists, and international firms, said Buranin Rattanasombat, the senior executive vice-president for new business and infrastructure at PTT Plc.

“In Thailand, a joint venture between local and British companies has led to the establishment of a new plant-based food production facility. The country’s abundance of raw materials makes it an ideal location for such ventures.”

The joint venture, Nutra Regenerative Protein Co., is a collaboration between Innobic (Asia), PTT’s life sciences arm, and Nove Foods Co., a subsidiary of SET-listed NR Instant Produce. The companies partnered with UK-based Plant and Bean to form a new company, Plant and Bean (Thailand), dedicated to the operation of the new factory in Ayutthaya.

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The new company aims to become a major global plant-based food manufacturer, selling products both domestically and internationally. Thailand’s lower plant-based protein manufacturing costs compared to the European Union make it an attractive investment location. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has increased costs for many plant-based meat manufacturers, making Thailand a prime option for relocation.

Profit potential

Plant and Bean (Thailand) is confident about the profit potential in this industry, especially considering the global market value of plant-based products will hit US$13 billion in 2022, with the US accounting for 75% of consumers.

Local sugar producer, Mitr Phol Group, also entered the plant-based meat sector, investing in food technology startup, Meat Avatar Co. The company seeks to add value to agricultural products through high technology, expanding its revenue streams.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) anticipates numerous business opportunities as several foreign food firms express interest in joint operations. Notably, US fast food chain Texas Chicken has partnered with the company to introduce plant-based food to its menu, targeting younger consumers.

The company plans to produce both ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food with similar characteristics to real meat. The factory in Ayutthaya is designed to have an annual production capacity of 3,000 tonnes, with plans to increase it to 13,000 tonnes in two years through a 400 million baht investment.

Mitr Phol and Meat Avatar also aim to offer a wide array of plant-based meats to satisfy diverse consumer tastes. Both companies have a vision to be leaders in the industry and support Thai farmers by adding value to their produce.

The demand for plant-based protein is expected to increase as health-conscious consumers seek affordable options. Prices for plant-based food range from 100 to 110 per kilogramme, similar to premium pork prices in Bangkok. However, plant-based food offers a higher protein content, making it a cost-effective choice for consumers.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) plans to ensure its products are free from genetically modified organisms. In line with the global campaign against climate change, the company’s factory utilises clean energy from rooftop solar panels in its manufacturing process.

A manufacturer of cassava-based products, UBE has announced its intention to develop new food products in line with health trends. In collaboration with experts from Chulalongkorn University, UBE aims to develop innovative food that better matches consumer demands, reported Bangkok Post.

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