Let’s Plant Meat, a Chiang Mai-based startup, has just launched its first plant-based burger product across major supermarket chains in Thailand, including Gourmet Market, Rim Ping and Tesco Lotus. The homegrown startup says that its products – which retail for half the price of plant-based meat alternatives imported from the U.S. – will help make sustainable protein choices more accessible to Thai consumers, who are among the world’s most vulnerable populations to the impacts of climate change.
Homegrown vegan food tech Let’s Plant Meat has recently launched its first product – plant-based burger patties – at over 80 locations of supermarket chains across Thailand, including Rim Ping, Tesco Lotus, Gourmet Market, MaxValu and Jagota Gourmet.
Made from non-GMO soy protein, rice protein, coconut oil, rice bran oil and beetroot extract, each serving of the vegan-friendly and cholesterol-free patty boasts 15 grams of protein while leaving a far lighter footprint on the planet.
According to a life-cycle analysis by the University of Michigan’s Centre for Sustainable Systems, plant-based burgers require 99% less water, 93% less land, 46% less energy and generate 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional beef burgers.
But while plant-based meat is a more sustainable option, many imported alternative protein brands remain far too expensive for the average Thai consumer, making low-carbon food options inaccessible to the domestic mass market.
Smith Taweelerdniti, the founder and CEO of Let’s Plant Meat, said the inspiration for the startup came from exactly this problem.
“I was shocked at the price of 150 baht (US$4.6) per [plant-based] patty. How would a Thai consumer be able to afford that? My team and I started to do research on a meat alternative made from plants that would be both delicious and affordable,” said Taweelerdniti.
Let’s Plant Meat’s version now retails at Thai grocery stores for around US$2.3 per patty, essentially halving the price of an average imported vegan meat product.
The startup says that being able to push sustainable protein products to mass consumers in Thailand is key, especially as the country itself is among the most vulnerable to the negative impact of the climate crisis, of which animal agriculture is a significant contributor.
“Chiang Mai made the list of the world’s worst air quality during the annual crop burning season – the burning largely came from fields growing corn to feed livestock,” explained Taweelerdniti.
“For as long as we continue to consume meat, the air we breathe will continue to be polluted. What if we can provide consumers with a product that is just as tasty, but is environmentally-friendly?”
Aside from plant-based burgers, Let’s Plant Meat is now planning to expand its product line with vegan minced meat, sausages and skewer meat products. The startup is also hoping to be able to export its brand within this year.
The startup was previously enrolled in SPACE-F, the first Thai food tech incubator and accelerator, and is one of the success stories to emerge in the first cohort alongside Singapore’s Alchemy Foodtech, a startup that harnesses biotechnology and medical technology to create a gluten-free and vegan product that can be incorporated into staple foods to fight the diabetes crisis.
Let’s Plant Meat’s launch not only comes as more consumers begin to couple food choices with its environmental impact, but also as the coronavirus heightens consciousness of health and food safety as the vulnerability of our animal-centric food supply chain is exposed.
All images courtesy of Let’s Plant Meat.