There’s big money in plant-based meat


T HE recent increase in demand for plant-based meats is too dramatic to be ignored by both the government and local businesses, according to the Board of Investment­s (BOI). The agency providing incentives to investors declared that the market for plant-based meats is now more attractive given the increasing number of consumers who are on the lookout for meat alternativ­es.

The rise in the number of people consuming meat alternativ­es enabled manufactur­ers to rake in $8 billion last year or about P400 billion at the current exchange rate (See, “Demand for plant-based meat rising amid ASF, avian flu—boi,” in the Businessmi­rror, July 21, 2021).

More people are expected to consume these products due to the onslaught of animal diseases, such as the African swine fever and avian influenza. Citing data from Barclays, the BOI said the global market is projected to increase to $140 billion by 2029 with other sources projecting revenues of $11 billion to $50 billion in 2024 and 2025, respective­ly. For the Asia-pacific region, the plant-based meat market is expected to generate revenues of $30 billion at a compound annual growth rate of 18.9 percent.

The BOI is bullish on the prospects of the plant-based meat industry. So much so that it has even exhorted local businesses and exporters to consider tapping the market for these products. There is basis for this advice considerin­g the availabili­ty of natural resources in the country that manufactur­ers can use to produce these meat alternativ­es.

Aspiring Filipino entreprene­urs can learn from the experience of Thai companies that have forayed into the synthetic meat business, which used the same crops that are also grown in the Philippine­s to manufactur­e plant-based protein. NR Instant Produce Pcl, for instance, uses jackfruit and eggplants to make mock pork and other alternativ­e meat products. The company that started making mock pork in 2016 was able to raise some 1.6 billion baht ($51.4 million) in its initial public offering in October 2020.

The government and the private sector must work together to help companies that are keen on going into this business to produce and sell alternativ­e meat products. The recent online informatio­n session on the upcoming Big Idea Food Competitio­n (BIFC) 2022 Asia Edition, conducted by the BOI to raise awareness on the potentials of plant-based foods, is a good first step. It has trained the spotlight on Worth The Health Foods (WTH), a local plant-based meat alternativ­es company, which benefited from BIV investment­s.

WTH makes various products—plant-based nuggets and ground meat—using local ingredient­s, such mung beans or munggo. A concerted effort involving relevant government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agricultur­e and local researcher­s, is needed to encourage entreprene­urs to follow the lead of WTH. Granting incentives to companies that will go into the manufactur­e of plant-based food and helping them access markets will open doors for many other aspiring entreprene­urs who want to take a crack at the burgeoning alternativ­e meats market.

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