Converting consumer demands into technical concepts key challenge for APAC plant sector

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Although the plant-based sector is gaining more and more space in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the field of plant-based meat, its rapid growth does not yet mean that all the defects in the production and innovation process have been flattened.

One of the main ones that still needs to be overcome with a high level of precision is converting what consumers want into actual product concepts – and the qualitative nature of this challenge only adds to its difficulty.

“As it stands, everything in this space must already be created because it’s a completely new sector, so it’s even more important to accurately understand the properties [that make a good product]”,​ Jeremy Burks, Senior Executive Vice President of Roquette, said FoodNavigator-Asia​ at the recent Fi Asia Thailand show in Bangkok.

“But when looking at these properties, it’s just as important to get them in terms of what consumers want, but consumers tend to describe them in very vague terms.

“We still have to know how to articulate these properties in terms of technical parameters, in order to transfer these properties to real products by creating the right processes – and this is a big scientific effort, in which we have invested a lot. , more than half a billion euros, over the past two years.

“To develop products of the future for Asia, there is no doubt that everything that succeeds will have to be done the Asian way, and we cannot just copy and paste existing products in the United States or Europe, because it won’t work here.”

The good control of these parameters is even more important in the APAC region, because the taste buds of Asian consumers are well known to be among the most demanding.

“In Asia, there is no doubt that taste is very, very important,”Rohit Markan, CEO of Roquette APAC, added.

“Along with that, we also see that there will be a lot of shifts in meat consumption here towards meat alternatives over the next five years, and the potential is really huge.

“There will be a shift to more plant-based products and alternatives, and we think that’s going to happen not just in the meat sector, but also in the beverage sector.”

Watch the video below to learn more.

Crucial constant innovation

Arugula is by no means new to the plant space, having been in the ingredients business for corn, wheat, potato, peas and more since 1933 – and even with that long history, the company believes that innovation and making new products is important for progress.

“In this green space, the most important thing is really to focus on innovation and [constantly] develop new skills,Markan said.

“We’ve invested heavily in facilities in Asia, and in Singapore alone we have three labs that focus on developing new products, new textures, new tastes and so on.

“Going forward, we intend to continue investing in a similar model in this region to countries like Japan, South Korea as well as India.”

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