CP Foods has traditionally centred its focus on animal and seafood products, being one of the biggest producers of pork, poultry and shrimp in the world as well as of related ready-to-cook and other instant items such as wontons and rice meals.
Despite its immense success in this area, the firm is now turning its attention to the area of alternative proteins, both plant-based and otherwise, as it believes that the extremely strong category growth for this sector is an opportunity not to be missed, according to both internal and external research.
“CP Foods has a lot of meat expertise as we have dealt with a lot of pork, chicken and meat development, but we have definitely seen alternative proteins boom in the past five years,” CP Foods Marketing Manager Songpon Rattanakasetsin told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“From the research we have done and seen analysts do, the growth for this category over the next five years will continue to be very significant, we’re talking of a CAGR from between 6% to 20% - and whatever the number is, we already can see that the growth will outpace that of traditional meat.
“So we really saw that there was a huge opportunity to put our meat expertise into developing a brand centred on alternative proteins, which is where our Meat Zero line came about.”
Local sales in Thailand and smaller-scale exports began in 2021, but according to Rattanakasetsin 2022 is the year that the firm has begun to focus a lot more on selling globally to international markets in a bigger way.
“We already started to export to several markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore last year, and are already available in supermarkets like Cold Storage and NTUC FairPrice,” he said.
“This year, we will be looking further to more Asian markets, and also have our eye on the European market where plant-based is already a very big trend.
CP Foods’ Meat Zero range contains eight products currently - five ready-to-cook items such as nuggets, patties, crispy port and three ready-to-eat meals such as basil rice and spaghetti Bolognese, and this wide variety is part of the firm’s strategy to capture a wider audience.
“Our concept for this is to make the products more accessible and affordable for consumers, all consumers, not just the vegan or vegetarian groups as the market size would be really limited if so,” he said.
“Many consumers today are now a lot more health conscious and paying more attention to areas such as nutrition, labelling and sustainability, which are causing the alternative protein boom, and we need to cater to those needs.
“Our target is the flexitarian consumers with this health consciousness, and to appeal to them we have designed our products to capture their attention by providing them with a huge amount of variety – hence the many choices we have for them.”
Not stopping at plant-based
The Meat Zero range is what CP Foods calls its first series, where plant-based ingredients are ‘reformed’ into the desired products – but it believes that the technology is emerging to take this even further.
“The first series looks at working with plant-based ingredients, selecting the right combinations and reforming these into different shapes to make many types of products,” he said.
“An obvious next step would be to focus on expanding the range, so moving beyond just chicken and pork to other categories such as seafood and beef as well as innovating to improve the taste and variety further.
“But another big next step for us will be to develop whole muscle technology, to make products with the texture of different animal parts, for example chicken breast or chicken fillets – and this could really mean a significant upgrade in our alternative protein offerings.”
Although cultivated meat technology was not specifically mentioned, this is currently the most advanced technology looking closely at replicating animal meat texture and structure, and CP Foods also recently announced a partnership with cultivated meat specialists Future Meat Technologies, with CEO Prasit Booondoungprasert highlighting this as a ‘key part of [CP Foods’] ambitions’.
Probiotics, healthy ageing and protein are major focus areas of our upcoming Growth Asia Summit in Singapore from 11 to 13 October. Check out big-name brands, international experts and pioneering start-ups slated to present here.