New report: Health and food safety factors to drive plant-based protein in Asia

Abstract: Consumer concerns about health and food safety will be one of the main drivers of the shift to plant-based protein in Asia, a new report finds. The study examines protein trends in major Asian economies, including China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand , and the Philippines, and examines the key factors that are slowly shifting protein scale from traditional animal sources to plant-based sources.

Keywords: plant protein, soy protein, health, food, protein producer

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The new report, prepared by the Singapore-based non-profit Food Industry Association of Asia (FIA) and consultancy AlphaBeta, focuses on the changing protein landscape of the “Asia Five”. These five countries – China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines – represent key markets that are at the forefront of driving the world’s growing protein demand.

Globally, protein consumption has grown by 45% between 2000 and 2019, with Asia accounting for 63% of that demand, the report said.

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Health Concerns Drive Asian Consumers’ Adoption of Plant-Based Protein

According to the report, one of the main motivations for Asian consumers to choose plant-based protein is health. “There is growing awareness of the link between high meat intake and negative health effects and chronic disease,” the researchers said.

The study also cites a number of past survey reports, such as “A consumer survey in China found that 34% of consumers ate pork because of its perceived negative health attributes, such as saturated fat, calories and high cholesterol. As a result, the amount is lower than the previous year,” and “a survey of urban Thai consumers found that 45% wanted to follow a plant-based, vegetarian or vegan diet.”

Policymakers prioritize food safety

The report pointed out that the widespread adoption of plant protein will undoubtedly be affected by government policies. If policymakers start thinking about food security, supply chain resilience and sustainability, the shift to plant protein in the five Asian markets will be even greater.

Policies suggested by the study include mandating local protein sourcing and developing a regulatory framework for new sustainable protein sources. There is also a need to raise public awareness of the health, safety and food safety benefits of non-animal protein.

The study also pointed to resource constraints caused by increased climate change as another factor driving the development of plant-based proteins. These environmental constraints will put pressure on producers to switch to climate-adapted plant-based protein crops, the report said.

More research and regulation needed

In summarizing the research, FIA-AlphaBeta analysts said that more research and regulatory regime development is needed to support the big shift in plant protein.

Jiang Yifan, Head of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at the FIA, commented: “It is critical for producers and policymakers to be prepared to meet this demand and take the necessary steps to ensure a sustainable source of protein supply.”

The report also compares plant-based proteins to other proteins in terms of nutritional benefits, including certain plant crops and species that are not yet widely available, and cell culture proteins that still need to address key research gaps – consumers are interested in new Protein acceptance is another area that needs to be learned more).

Fraser Thompson, founder and managing director of AlphaBeta, said new cell culture proteins currently lack best practice standards and food safety frameworks to guide new protein producers and “open new business models.”