Alternative proteins gather momentum in Singapore


By Fiona Acheson, head of Food & Beverage and Consumer Goods at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise    

With demand for protein, meat and dairy alternatives increasing in New Zealand’s key export markets across Asia, more alternative protein companies are seeking to grow their export footprint.

Singapore, with food imports accounting for 90% of all food consumed, is an interesting barometer of this trend.

Singapore’s interest in alternative proteins, including plant-based meat, has support from the government food security policy which aims to reduce the small island nation’s reliance on imports. The trend is also supported by other factors – Buddhism, with its central tenet of vegetarianism has meant that ‘mock meat’ has been available in Singapore for a long time, including poultry and port replacements. Singaporean’s growing interest in healthy diets is also a factor with 46% of them identifying as being flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian. Additionally, plant-based meats are available in both local and Western cuisines, offering formats from dim sum to burgers.  Singaporeans relatively high disposable income and the fact they are some of the top spenders on dining out in Asia, is creating demand for premium alternative protein products in food service, which both local and international companies have been quick to recognise.

What does this mean for New Zealand exporters? Two companies capitalising on the growing alternative protein trend are Otis Oat Milk and Little Island Creamery.  Having secured a distributor last year, Otis has launched both online and offline to capture retail sales opportunities.  Its products are now available in all major supermarkets and top online e-grocer platforms and the company is making inroads into some cafés, with its Otis Chocolate Oat Milk adding a point of difference. With visitors returning now that Singapore has eased its border restrictions, the company is looking at expanding its food service presence.

Little Island Limited meanwhile has launched its range of coconut-based milks and coconut-based ice-cream.  Leveraging NZTE’s global F&B Campaign Made with Care through the DiscoverNew social platform, along with their own social media messaging, Little Island is focused on building brand awareness with local consumers. So far they’ve secured listings across both their categories in one of Singapore’s top supermarket chains, as well as on Singapore’s leading e-commerce platform.

And on the note of brand awareness, its useful to note that while Singapore’s high reliance on imported food products means the market is relatively open with minimal entry barriers, it does also mean food and beverage exporters face high competition with other global brands.  New Zealand companies are finding their investment in brand marketing on market entry is critical given the level of competition.

For more information on opportunities in Singapore, visit myNZTE.

Fiona Acheson leads NZTE’s Food and Beverage Customers team. She has held roles as NZTE regional director for Greater China, NZTE investment director on the government’s cross-agency investment taskforce, and has also been trade commissioner in Guangzhou and for Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. She has also supported leveraging activities around the NZ–China free trade agreement and led leveraging programmes around the ASEAN–Australia–NZ and Malaysia–NZ FTAs.       

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.