As Vegan Demand Surges, Leading Thai Food Company With Plant-Based Range Completes Successful IPO

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Editor’s Update: This article has been updated to reflect that while NR Instant Produce Pcl does indeed manufacture plant-based products including sauces, condiments and jackfruit-based products, the company is not exclusively plant-based- they also make animal products.

As Thailand’s plant-based industry continues to surge, from mainstream food chains launching meatless dishes to the emergence of homegrown food techs developing vegan meat alternatives for local consumers, the latest news to indicate the unstoppable trend is the country’s first-ever plant-based company IPO. Earlier this month, NR Instant Produce Pcl, a large food manufacturing company which also produces jackfruit-based pork alternatives and vegan snacks, went public on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and saw its stock doubling on the day of its debut. 

Officially listed on the SET on October 9 under the ticker NRF, the Bangkok-based company has become the first Thai plant-based company to go public. Since 2016, the company has become a major manufacturer and distributor of plant-based condiments, food ingredients and protein powders, as well as a private label pork alternative made from jackfruit. The company also produces animal-based foods such as beef and seafood condiments, seasonings and ready meals.

The company raised around 1.6 billion baht (US$51.2 million) on the first day of trading, with its stock doubling upon its debut. It says it will be using the money to grow its production facilities in Thailand and expand on the international stage, with the U.K., U.S. and China being its main target markets. It plans to double its manufacturing capacity by 35% within the next two years from today’s 19,000 tons per year, and increase its sales revenue to 3,000 million baht (US$95,907) by 2024. 

Speaking about the business opportunity to be made in Thailand’s fast-growing plant-based industry, Danai Pathomvanich, CEO of NR Instant Produce Pcl, says that in the wake of the pandemic, shoppers are prioritising health and food safety – and this is translating into greater sales for alternative meats. 

“Consumer focus on health is a huge megatrend right now. The growth potential is massive,” Pathomvanich told Bloomberg

Consumers are also increasingly aware about sustainability, and it’s driving similar trends across the world but particularly in Asia. One recent poll in Hong Kong found that a quarter of the city’s young shoppers are now going to reduce their meat intake as a direct result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, South Korea reported a tripling in its vegan population and Japan’s plant-based food scene has exploded with vegan konbini to 100% dairy and egg-free Japanese bakeries. 

Consumer focus on health is a huge megatrend right now. The growth potential is massive.

Danai Pathomvanich, CEO of NR Instant Produce Pcl

But even prior to the pandemic, this trend was firmly underway. Experts have highlighted that the coronavirus has worked to accelerate the growing shift – mostly from millennials and Gen Zs – towards plant-based. In Thailand, the percentage of consumers who no longer consume meat has increased from 4% to 12% in 2017, according to government statistics. 

With the outlook of the plant-based industry far more positive than other sectors amid the economic turmoil induced by the coronavirus crisis, Veena Lertnimitr, the executive vice president of investment banking at Siam Commercial Bank, commented in a press release that NR Instant Produce is well-positioned for strong growth in the future. 

The news comes within the same month as it was revealed that Natural Order Acquisition Corp. has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol NOACU to raise US$250 million for its business model to acquire businesses specialising in plant-based and animal-free protein alternatives and food and beverages. 

The company’s aim is more ambitious than food tech Beyond Meat’s milestone of becoming one of the hottest IPOs in 2019, raising US$240 million. Since Beyond Meat made history as the first ever vegan company to go public, two more plant-based companies – The Very Good Food Company and Modern Meat – both based in Canada, have joined the ranks to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE).


All images courtesy of NR Instant Produce Pcl.


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