A Brief History of
plant-based protein

Plant-based protein has been gaining popularity over the years, with the success of products  such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. Alternative foods are no surprise to us, they have been available and consumed for hundreds of years. One best-known example would be tofu, which was invented as early as 200 BCE. It is a beancurd derived from soybeans.  People may say that it is bland or flavorless, but tofu is a versatile food that can be cooked with other ingredients. Another soy-based alternative is tempeh, an Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans. For years, these alternatives have stuck around. Despite the existence of these alternatives, it still remains very much a meat-eater world.

However, in recent years, the makers of modern meat analogues are putting a spin on it - marketing plant-based products to meat eaters who make up a much larger portion of the population. Trying to sell a quinoa burger to a meat-eater is an incredibly difficult task but the shift in marketing perspective has been lucrative for plant-based meat companies, whose sales have grown over time. The success of plant-based proteins in recent years can be seen through the IPO of companies such as Beyond Meat (IPO in 2019) and Oatly (IPO in 2021).

As plant-based proteins have gained traction, the language around it has shifted. The word “plant-based” is more favoured for consumers who do not want to be associated as being vegetarian but would like to have more plant-based foods in their diet.

Why is the plant-based protein industry growing so fast?

There are multiple benefits to consuming plant-based protein: it is associated as being healthier and a sustainable source of food.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many consumers to rethink about their food consumption habits, focusing on health and well-being. Additionally, there are concerns around the link of processed animal protein consumption with the development of chronic diseases, coupled with the use of hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy options. Plant-based proteins have more nutritional value, with more fiber, vitamins and minerals than animal proteins.

Other than health, there has been a call for food sustainability. There are concerns on rising carbon emissions and the welfare of animals through intensive animal farming is driving the adoption of plant-based diets. The pandemic has brought about supply chain disruptions and food shortages, exposing the vulnerability of the current food system.

The size of the global plant-based protein market is projected to be expanding rapidly, reaching a market size of $290 billion by 2035. The economic opportunity, coupled with the emergence of “flexitarian” consumer culture with growing ethical, environmental and health concerns has seen an increasing prevalence of plant-based diets

Downsides of other plant-based products, compared to Protein Plus 

With the “plant-based” label, consumers may be led to believe that any type of plant-based food is healthier, However, evaluating the healthfulness of a product based primarily on its caloric and macro-nutrient content completely disregards the importance we should be placing on the specific food items, additives, or chemicals contained within that product.

Soy, is frequently touted for its high protein, fiber, and mineral content but it can produce harmful health effects such as digestive disorders, hormone imbalances, or immunologic reactions. Some may say that soy has been consumed for thousands of years in Asian cultures but it was nothing like the genetically modified soy of today. The soy found in most popular brands of artificial animal products is often genetically modified and grown with many toxic pesticides. Some soy samples evaluated by the USDA Pesticide Data Program revealed 14 total toxin residues, including the herbicide glyphosate which is linked to numerous conditions such as cancer, immune dysfunction, and disruption of the human microbiome.

Pea protein has become increasingly popular in plant-based products. However, they still pose similar health risks. Peas, similar to soybeans, may be derived from farming operations that use harsh agrochemicals.

On the other hand, our protein powder and cheeses are made from coconut. Coconut have multiple health benefits that helps to boost the immune system & energy and is a great source of fiber

Industry Opportunities 

Plant-based protein—its expansion propelled by the pandemic—is poised to become an $85 billion market. Driven by a growing global population and consumers who are making more sustainable, health-conscious food choices, analysts forecast the market for plant-based protein and alternative meat to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to an eye-popping $85 billion by 2030 (Korn Ferry).

While the trends driving plant-based protein’s expansion were there before COVID-19, the pandemic certainly accelerated them. In recent years, the visibility of plant-based protein startups in the F&B space has increased, through its presence at food fairs to making it as food items on restaurant menus. The plant-based protein industry is one that is disruptive and changing the game of food manufacturing as we know it.

Industry Challenges 

Despite the rise of the plant-based protein industry, there are some key challenges as the audience for plant-based products continue to evolve. Consumers’ expectations of plant-based products has heightened - they are looking for direct replications of the animal-based products they’re used to, including plant-based products with a “meaty” taste. As much as plant-based products are being posied as a healthier alternative, consumers expect a similar price, taste and texture profile to its meat equivalents.

For many plant-based products, striking the right flavour and taste is important. According to Kerry Research, taste is the top reason non-users haven’t tried a plant-based food or beverage. Till date, some of the most common words used to describe plant-based proteins are “beany”, “bitter”, “cardboard-like” and “earthy”.

Plant-based proteins face the issue of over-seasoning. In an attempt to replicate the experience of eating meat, some companies have resorted to adding flavours that are meant to replicate chicken, beef or other meat products. However, when used in a high dose, it can make the plant-based proteins inauthentic and brings the experience of eating “fake meat”.

Creating plant-based proteins is not only about creating a source of alternative food, but also about creating an eating experience that feels authentic to consumers. Bringing better nutritional position to plant-based foods and rigorous fine-tuning will create an authentic experience for consumers.

Protein Plus as the solution

As a result, we have come up with Protein Plus as the answer to the plant-based protein landscape. Being backed by a 50-year established food manufacturing company with global exports, as well as 20-year reputable innovative F&B group, we have the F&B R&D expertise to create an authentic and healthy experience for the consumer.

Protein Plus was created as the solution to meet the rising demand for plant-based dairy alternatives. Our technological capabilities and patented efficient manufacturing process, ensure that our products are purer, finer and of premium quality. Our range will include manufacturing ingredients such as protein powders and retail products such as cheeses and yoghurt.

As one of the first movers in the plant-based alternative cheese space in Singapore, we hope to contribute to a better world of healthier and sustainable consumption of food.

What's next?

Using our natural additives and substitutes allows you to create healthier, better-tasting products, while delivering premium quality and being environmentally friendly. Learn more about our products, or find out what's next.