Plant-based food alternatives have been booming in Singapore – from faux meat, eggs, to even milk products.
Experts are predicting a greater proliferation of meat substitutes to flood the market this year. That’s as people grow increasingly health-conscious about the food they eat.
The cause of this shifting consumer behavior pattern? Covid-19. The pandemic has led Singaporeans to become more aware of what they eat amid concerns about food security in the country due to food supply disruptions.
There’s also a new fast-growing group of eaters that’s supporting the growth of the alternative food industry too: Flexitarians. They are consumers that have a primarily plant-based diet but occasionally consume meat or seafood.
Companies that offer plant-based meat-free alternatives have been pushing their products more aggressively in Singapore. That’s partly due to Singapore’s support for alternative food products over the years. For example, in 2018, Enterprise Singapore launched FoodInnovate, a multi-agency initiative to support food manufacturers and startups to innovate and develop new solutions.
A 2020 research from Danisco Animal Nutrition and ISPOS revealed that sales of plant-based “meat” in Asia grew by 7.4 per cent last year. The data also showed that Asia, which accounts for more than half of the world’s population, is the region with the strongest interest in plant-based food options.
According to a report by WATTPoultry International, Asia’s demand for plant-based meat alternatives is expected to triple over the next five years.
In Singapore, research from vegan food searcher app abillion, supported by Enterprise Singapore, showed that the demand for plant-based chicken and pork in Singapore is rapidly growing, due to the rising “conscious consumption” trend.
It seems like Singaporeans’ efforts to “eat green” have helped the environment too.
As more consumers opt for plant-based foods, it has helped Singapore cut its environmental footprint. In just the month of April 2021 alone, the reduction is equivalent to the savings of 708,863 square meters of land, 303,798 kg of CO2, and 8,506,360 litres of water.
All in, this plant-based food industry seems like it means business. We take a look at a list of plant-based meat-free products sold in Singapore and where to buy them.
In Singapore, plant-based “beef” dominates the meat market, abillion research showed. But not to be outdone, statistics show that plant-based “pork” and “chicken” have been outperforming in growth.
Consumer interest in plant-based “chicken” and “pork” products rose seven times for December 2020, compared to a year ago, according to abillion.
ALTN “chicken” nuggets and gyozas
In January, home-grown food empire Teh Yi Jia Manufacturing launched its meat-free brand ALTN.
ALTN which took two years of research and product innovation for the food products to be prepped for the market, features a range of frozen, ready-to-cook meals and snacks made with plant-based proteins such as fungus, peas, and soy.
The products are vegan friendly, a good source of protein, and are well seasoned, according to Teh Yi Jia.
TiNDLE “chicken” by Next Gen Foods
TiNDLE is a plant-based “chicken” brand from Singapore startup Next Gen Foods.
The “chicken” is made of nine ingredients like water, soy, coconut fat, sunflower oil, and the company’s trademarked Lipi, which constitutes a blend of “plant-based fats and flavour”.
It’s been certified by the Health Promotion Board as a Healthier Choice option, containing less saturated fat and sodium than other plant-based alternatives.
In March this year, TiNDLE ran its global debut in Singapore with its “chicken” supplied to 11 restaurants including Three Buns Singapore.
In April, it collaborated with 28 Hong Kong Street Bar, offering a TiNDLE spin on the bar’s iconic Fried Chicken and Waffles. You can head there to try out the plant-based “chicken” dish and make your own verdict.
KARANA “pork” made from jackfruit
There’s also KARANA, which turns jackfruit into plant-based “pork”. The jackfruit is sustainably sourced and minimally processed to taste like pork.
It launched its first “pork” product in January this year and is working on bringing a range of ready-to-cook retail products in Singapore by mid-2021.
The startup raised US$1.7 million in seed funding last year. The firm is using the funds to launch its plant-based products to supply to restaurants in Singapore, and subsequent plans for the region.
KARANA’s plant-based “pork” can be found at restaurants Atout, Butcher Boy, Candlenut, and Open Farm Community.
There are plans to sell KARANA’s brand of plant-based char siu bao and “pork” and chive dumpling in retail stores soon.
Insane Meals plant-based meal plan subscription service
It’s a vegan home delivery food subscription service that offers healthy bento meals at over S$15 each. The menu is filled with Asian delights and Western favourites and caters to flexitarians and vegetarians.
The meal subscription business sells local plant-based “meat” brands like TiNDLE, KARANA, and OMNI.
The company is focused on vegan meat-free alternatives including the Hong Kong-based vegan “pork” from OMNI and the US-based vegan “meat” from IMPOSSIBLE Foods.
Insane Meals offers two subscription plans – a 12 meals a week plan and six meals a week plan.
There’s a wide variety of food dishes, from sambal “chicken”, to “beef” and potato pie, and IMPOSSIBLE chilli con carne.
Customers can order from the website. Menus are refreshed weekly.
Afterglow plant-based culinary dishes
The online and retail restaurant sells only plant-based dishes carrying a wide variety, from “cheese” cakes, tarts, salads to even burgers and lasagnes.
It doesn’t serve meat, dairy, or eggs. The dishes are made by the chefs using plant-only ingredients and according to Afterglow, its food does not contain preservatives as well.
A tart costs around S$9.00, while a salad is around S$14.00. Located at 24 Keong Saik Road, it offers pick up and islandwide delivery. Delivery fees are waived for orders above S$55.00.
The online delivery website is here.
Milk and egg substitutes
Mohjo plant-based almond milk
The dairy alternative products are made out of a Singapore Food Authority approved facility. Mohjo said that its drinks contain 10 times more almonds than other commercial brands, making them nutritious and high in protein.
There are currently three versions of mohjo dairy-free drinks – unsweetened almond milk, sweetened almond milk, and pure cacao almond milk.
The milk does not contain additives, emulsifiers, and refined sugars. Iranian dates are added to sweeten the milk. Other ingredients in a bottle of mohjo include Himalayan salt and filtered water.
Launched early this year, mohjo has an e-commerce site selling its drinks.
The business recently got seed funding from a round led by East Venture. With the new funds, it plans to sell other plant-based milk products, launch a pick-up option, and enter the retail scene soon.
OsomeFood hard-boiled “eggs”
Containing zero hormones and cholesterol, OsomeFood’s “eggs” are filled with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to boost collagen production.
It offers as an alternative protein replacement and is made of ingredients like yeast, almond milk, and carrot juice.
The “eggs” are frozen and have a shelf life of six months. But they are slightly costly, at S$14.99 for a box. The “eggs” are sold on OsomeFood’s website and retail store at 112 Yio Chu Kang Road.
The popularity of plant-based snacks is rising quickly. This is seen by how consumer reviews on the abillion app soared 170 per cent last year, from a year ago.
Snack products are in high demand, underscored by an increasing preference for healthier snack options, the research showed.
Boxgreen mushroom snacks
Boxgreen offers plant-based snacks like soya crisps and shitake chips. The snacks are free from artificial flavouring and colouring.
These chips are suitable for vegetarians and vegans and are free from artificial colours, gluten, preservatives, and MSG.
The crunchies can be bought on Amazon, NTUC Fairprice, and Lazada at around S$9.90 for a packet of 150g. It also sells care packs for businesses on its website, to deliver to employees.
The company also uses eco-friendly packaging. All their boxes and cards are made of recycled material, and their plastic packaging is also recyclable.
Hey! Chips vegetable and fruit snacks
Vegetables that undergo vacuum frying technology – already used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to nourish the astronauts in space.
This technology creates snacks that are healthy and nutritious. Vegetables and fruits like broccoli are dehydrated at low temperatures, retaining the nutrients in every piece of snack.
The vegetables and fruits snack sources food products directly from farms. The company spent three years of research and development before it “perfected” the snack product.
Other vegetable and fruit flavours include pineapple, cherry tomato, jackfruit, and mango.
Where else can I buy plant-based food alternatives
The top five meat-free friendly retailers in Singapore – according to vegan review site abillion – are NTUC Fairprice, redmart, Cold Storage, Everyday Vegan Grocer, and Mustafa Singapore.
Other stores that sell plant-based products include iHerb, Don Don Donki, Shopee, and Lazada.
There are also culinary grocers like Sasha’s Fine Foods.
Plant-based food trend not going away
Sustainable living has become popular among Singapore consumers due to heightened awareness of environmental, social, and health issues during Covid-19.
“It is clear that plant-based foods are one of the key priorities as Asian consumers, food manufacturers and restaurants look to sustainable alternatives. While still nascent in Singapore, we see emerging demand for such alternatives,” said Bernice Tay, Enterprise Singapore, director of food manufacturing in an abillion report.
To date, Singapore has supported over 300 new products through FoodInnovate, and worked with global accelerator partners to grow close to 100 agri-food startups locally.
A new trend that’s been emerging is a rising interest in plant-based seafood. Abillion anticipates the alternative seafood scene in the country to increase significantly in the next three to five years as switching to these alternatives produces benefits like a lower environmental footprint.
With the emergence of alternative foods and the demand seen from consumers, retailers should consider this growth potential and work on enhancing the retail accessibility of these plant-based meats to capture a piece of the pie.
Featured Image Credit: Food companies’ product shots