Plant-based label war Down Under: Labelling battle heats up as alt protein and meat sectors clash over research
The battle over plant-based labelling in Australia is heating up with representatives from both the plant-based sector and the traditional meat sector coming up with their own research to prove their points.
The debate began in earnest last year when Australian Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud hosted a roundtable to discuss the issue, which was deemed by the plant-based industry to have ‘unbalanced representation’ in favour of the traditional meat and dairy industries.
Following this, the Australian government has also held a public inquiry into the use of traditionally meat-related terms such as ‘beef’, ‘meat’, ‘burgers’ and so on for plant-based product labelling, again drawing heated debate between traditional meat and dairy producers and the plant-based sector.
Since then, both the plant-based and traditional sectors have been engaging in a battle of sorts to put out their own research to further argue their points. Representing the former is plant-based advocacy body Food Frontier, which analysed over 250 plant-based meat alternative products in Australian supermarkets.
Seeding innovation: Shandi Global sets up plant-based manufacturing facility in Singapore, closes funding round
Plant-based meat start-up Shandi Global has secured US$750,000 in a seed funding round to help commercialise its plant protein offerings.
The Singapore-based B2B firm has developed a plant-based chicken protein using a unique combination of high moisture meat analogous (HMMA) extrusion method and amino acids to create products that are tender and flavoursome.
Typically, most plant-based products are made by soaking textured plant proteins, adding flavours and binders, before shaping into the desired shapes.
Shandi’s prduct is made from ingredients such as pea protein, green peas, chick peas, quinoa, flax seed, brown rice, coconut oil, mustard oil and water, with no additives including flavourings. It develops flavour by sourcing plant molecules that contain the desired amino acid profile.
New kids on the block: Tempeh producer Plant Power marks online presence in UAE with Kibsons listing
UK tempeh brand Plant Power is marking its first online presence in the UAE with a launch through online grocery retailer Kibsons.
Specialising in Indonesian tempeh products, the firm will sell its full range of tempeh products including smoked tempeh, oriental, BBQ, original and curry.
The listing in Kibsons follows an earlier launch through Spinneys’ supermarkets last year.
“We always wanted an online presence in the UAE market so the dream was to get involved with the market leaders,” said Lawrence Hill, the founder of Plant Power.
Novel food product development is rapidly outpacing regulation and consumer understanding, with experts calling for better communication and policy advances to ensure innovation leads to commercialisation.
Currently, there are no Codex standards for novel foods although Singapore was the first worldwide to grant regulatory approval for cell-based chicken as a food ingredient last year.
This lack of standards and harmonisation add to the complexity of market access.
Dr Ben Smith, director at the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH), said: “A lot of this new technology is being done by the scientists in the lab. But the regulators and risk assessors, they are not scientists and need to be educated to better understand the new technology. This is often the bottleneck in regulations.”
Upfield is launching its plant-based cheese brand Violife into the Middle East, following the introduction of its Flora spread last year, with Asia markets set to follow suit.
Violife is a vegan, allergen-free alternative range to dairy cheese, and will be available in slices, blocks, grated and creamy in original, cheddar and mozzarella flavours.
The products are sold to food service as well as retail sectors across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
Upfield’s brands including Flora, Rama, Blue Band and Proactiv.