Thailand’s largest agribusiness firm, Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl (CPF), is launching its own line of plant-based meat substitutes this year in response to the growing customer demand of animal free foods, a top executive announced on Tuesday.
CPF has historically focused on animal products but Asia’s meat industry has been hit hard by the outbreak of African Swine Fever forcing pork prices to rise dramatically, that together with the global trend of consumers seeking alternatives to animal products, is fuelling the market for plant-based.
Chief Executive Prasit Boondoungprasert told Reuters Bangkok in an interview that the products would be sold first in Thailand this year, before being rolled out across the rest of Asia. Mr Prasit, who took over as CEO in July last year, said introducing meat substitutes was part of the firm’s strategy to expand its food business, including ready-to-eat meals and pre-cooked meats.
CPF, which has operations in 17 countries and exports to 30, is planning capital expenditure of 20 billion baht ($662.47 million) this year, down from 30 billion baht last year.
A recent report showed that 53% of Thai consumers want to reduce their meat consumption and 45% are aiming for a vegetarian or vegan diet. Mr Prasit stated in the interview: “There is a global trend of ‘flexitarians’ – people who have vegetarian meals once or twice a week. Restaurants will want to offer this option to their diners.”