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3 Aug 2022

Econ Digest

Alternative proteins: the future food trend, will they grow as expected?


       When it comes to alternative protein foods derived from food innovations, whether plant-based protein, insect-based protein or proteins from other processed ingredients, advanced and sophisticated technologies are used to make the taste, texture and appearance of the products as close as possible to the traditional protein. These foods are arguably the food trends of the future that truly respond to consumers’ needs in terms of health and environment. What will be the direction of the alternative protein market in Thailand for 2022?

       KResearch projects that the market for alternative proteins derived from food innovations in 2022 will be worth THB4.1 billion or an increase of 5.1%, which is less than previously projected. Due to challenging factors such as accelerating cost of living and inflation, leading to reduced consumer purchasing power, coupled with competition with traditional protein foods at different price levels and distribution channels, alternative proteins derived from food innovations will continue to face challenges in increasing dietary supplementation or obtaining a staple meal for most consumer groups.

       In addition to consumer purchasing power and competition with traditional protein foods, the business of operating alternative proteins derived from food innovations in 2022 will still face significant challenges from intense competition. These challenges include an increasing number of players entering into this market in earnest, and the risk of rising production costs as global food prices, energy prices and freight charges will tend to rise further over the remainder of 2022.

       However, KResearch expects, without the impact from the accelerating cost of living and production cost as a result of inflation, the market for alternative proteins derived from food innovations in 2022 could grow by 7.0%YoY. The potential for products that respond to consumption trends in health and the environment and the seriousness with which more players are entering this market will lead to further product investment and development that meet consumers’ needs. Therefore, the consumption rate of alternative proteins is expected to continue to expand, while there are still large market gaps for alternative proteins derived from food innovations in Thailand, as the market value of alternative proteins accounts for only 0.6% of the total protein food market in Thailand, which is expected to reach THB716 billion in 2022.

       The export market is another channel of interest for alternative proteins derived from food innovations, as foreign consumers are much more receptive to these products than the domestic market. This is evidenced by the significant expansion in exports during the first five months of 2022, where exports of plant-based protein reached USD628.7 million, an increase of 13.5%YoY, with the major export markets being the U.S., China and ASEAN, and exports of insect-based protein reached USD129.1 million, an increase of 25.0%YoY, with the major export markets being the EU countries such as Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

       Therefore, in-depth research into all aspects of the market opportunities, along with highlighting the unique features of products such as Thai food menus, plant-based seafood, environmentally conscious production processes and creating stories that inspire target customers, are also essential to differentiate the businesses.

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Econ Digest