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Keep it simple: Why minimal processing is key to winning over Asian … – FoodNavigator-Asia.com

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Related tags FNA InnovATE plant based
Despite its accelerated growth in the Asia Pacific region over the past few years, the plant-based sector still faces the challenge of consumer misconceptions regarding its ingredients, processing methods and nutritional content.
Many plant-based meat producers today have opted to focus on delivering a minimally processed, low-salt, high-nutritional value messaging when it comes to marketing their products.
“Until today, even in a market where plant-based is growing quickly like Thailand, it is a common misconception for many consumers in Asia that plant-based meat products automatically equal to ultraprocessed food products,”​ plant-based meat brand Meat Avatar Co-Founder Wiphu Loetsuraphibun told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“This is why we have made an effort to make our products using only simple processing, so that these will appeal to our consumers who are very health conscious.
“It is also important to make sure that consumers are made aware of the way these products are made, so should be made clear on product labels that not only are these not ultraprocessed products, but the protein contains is almost the same as conventional meat and other big branded products.
“We also have made sure our formulation has a sodium level that is much lower than many other brands but maintains the carbohydrates, minerals and so on to provide the nutritional benefits whilst still maintaining an acceptable taste.”

He added that this is based on Asian consumers’ known preference for health as a purchasing driver as opposed to other factors more commonly seen in western markets such as environmental sustainability or animal welfare.
“Many consumers in Western markets are concerned about things like climate change and see this as a reason to turn to plant-based diets, but for Asian consumers and especially Thais, I think they health consciousness is the main driver to try plant-based,”​ he said.
“It is only after health reasons that they will think of things like environment or farm conditions or animal welfare.”
Whatever the market drivers, Loetsuraphibun is confident that the future is bright for the plant-based sector in the region, and goes so far as to highlight Thailand as a vegan destination for tourists.
“We can already see that this industry is going to evolve to be very, very big,”​ he said.
“Alternative proteins are emerging to play a clear role in agriculture to replace less sustainable practices as well as in providing meat alternatives with sufficient nutritional value and benefits.”
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