The Good Food Institute Asia-Pacific (GFI APAC), the Asia branch of the global nonprofit advocating for and supporting the alternative protein ecosystem, recently hosted its inaugural virtual event. Called the Asia Summit on Alternative Proteins (ASAP), the two-day event took a deep dive into the alternative protein industry in Asia, from scientific and regulatory developments to the investment landscape.
Over the course of the summit, which took place online between August 20-21, GFI APAC hosted live public talk sessions, private expert roundtable discussions and chats with leading food tech founders, which drew more than 1,500 participants from across 50 countries.
Notable talks that took place included a myth-busting session with Mueller Asia managing director Alexander Pestalozzi, founder and CEO of Brinc Manav Gupta and John Cheng, the director of Innovate 360, where misleading news headlines in the industry were highlighted.
One of the myths discussed was the misleading headline that Nestlé had invested US$103 million in a mainland China plant-based food factory (Green Queen revealed upon further investigation that a large share of the money would be split to help boost the company’s existing unsustainable dairy snack production and ramp up its pet food line), casting doubt on the authenticity of the firm’s plant-based commitments.
The summit also saw a one-on-one interview between David Yeung, founder and CEO of Green Monday and GFI APAC managing director Elaine Siu. During the talk, Yeung stressed the importance of giving people alternatives. “It’s not enough to tell people to drive cleaner cars, you need to create a Tesla as the alternative. We’re creating the Tesla in food.”
It’s not enough to tell people to drive cleaner cars, you need to create a Tesla as the alternative. We’re creating the Tesla in food.David Yeung, Founder & CEO of Green Monday
Speaking about the overarching mission of the summit, Siu said: “Cancellation of most if not all physical conferences over the past 6 months has made it difficult to connect and develop partnerships. As we see collaboration as the key to accelerating the alternative protein sector, we decided to step in to fill that void.”
Other key sessions that took place include a talk on ingredient diversification within the alt protein industry, hosted by managing director of GFI India Varun Deshpande, who was joined by a number of food tech experts who shared insights on the reliance of smallholder farmers in the region, the dangers of monocropping and how diversifying our diets can hold the key to solve these issues. Deshpande was joined by culinary anthropologist Nithiya N Laila and Vi Nguyen, the director of research at Asia Research & Engagement.
Concluding the summit was an all-female panel of food tech founders, which featured Carrie Chan, the founder and CEO of Avant Meats, a Hong Kong food tech developing cell-based fish maw and other seafood delicacies and Fengru Lin, the founder and CEO of TurtleTree Labs, a Singapore startup that has created the world’s first lab-grown dairy and human breast milk. The panel was also joined by Dr. Ling Ka Yi, the co-founder and CSO of Singapore-based cultivated startup Shiok Meats.
To take the alternative protein sector to the next level, including getting past bottlenecks such as research and production costs, infrastructures required to scale up, and better understanding of and increased efficiency in satisfying target consumers and demands.Elaine Siu, Managing Director of GFI APAC
Rounding up the two-day event, Siu said that there was a “clear consensus” amongst all industry players that working together will be key. “The word collaboration came up a lot during our summit.”
“To take the alternative protein sector to the next level, including getting past bottlenecks such as research and production costs, infrastructures required to scale up, and better understanding of and increased efficiency in satisfying target consumers and demands,” Siu added.
For those who missed the event, all sessions recording are available here.
Lead image courtesy of Omnipork / Megan’s Kitchen.