Asia Pacific Plant-Based Industry: How Startups & Investors Are Coping With Coronavirus

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The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt left businesses across all industries and markets reeling. Customers are at an all-time low, supply chains are fragile and vulnerable to external shocks from travel restrictions, and businesses have to keep in mind the health and safety and of their own staff. For many, the ongoing crisis is proving a difficult mission to stay afloat, including the plant-based sector. Recently, founder of Future Food Now Michal Klar reached out to Asia’s food tech entrepreneurs and investors to ask them how their operations have been impacted and what their coping strategies are during the pandemic. Below are some of the most interesting perspectives (and trend predictions!) from plant-based industry insiders.

For the full compilation of answers from plant-based and cell-based industry leaders, read Michal Klar’s latest Covid-19 special issue here.

“Call me an unabashed optimist but this was the shock to the system that will just accelerate the movement to plant/cell-based foods.” 

Christian Cadeo, managing partner at alt-protein hybrid accelerator and venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures (BIV) in New York and Singapore

“The last months have been a bruiser for Hong Kong’s F&B industry – six months of protests and three months of coronavirus has meant closings, cancelled openings, postponed launches and low to no traffic for restaurants and hotels.”

Sonalie Figueiras, founder & editor-in-chief of Green Queen Media in Hong Kong

“We will need to rethink our launch strategy as delivery has become the only option for many people in Singapore and around the world for the time being.”

Dan Riegler, co-founder of jackfruit-based whole food plant meat startup Karana in Singapore

“Our initial plan was to build the brand through food service (now on hold), have consumers try the product at events (all postponed), and in store tasting (cancelled for the foreseeable future). We’re having to adapt so we decided to launch an online popup in two cities.”

Michael Fox, co-founder & CEO of plant-based meat startup Fable in Australia

“Covid-19 has certainly caused disruption for Chinese companies and entrepreneurs in the plant-based food sector. However, we remain excited about the prospects for the sector, particularly as we believe this situation is opening people’s minds to considering different ways to eat and live.”

Albert Tseng from China-based impact investment firm Dao Foods

“We were expecting several Indian alternative protein start-ups to launch or conduct market tests this year, and now expect significant delays in product development and launch.” 

Varun Despande, managing director of alt-protein non-profit Good Food Institute (GFI) India

“There is more hesitancy in the market generally but we and all the other venture funds are still investing. When the COVID-19 crisis has died down, we think the need for affordable, high quality meat alternatives will be even more obvious and potentially give momentum to a market already growing quickly.”

Samantha Wong, partner at Australia and New Zealand-based venture capital firm Blackbird

“There seems to be some questioning of intensive meat production associated with the Covid crisis. Being in a sustainable industry that addresses a global meat shortage problem is not a bad place to be. Also making sure that our proposition is affordable.”

Nick Hazell, CEO of Australian plant-based meat startup v2food

Lead image courtesy of niekverlaan / Pixabay.


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