Nestle (Thai), a leading consumer goods manufacturer and marketer, is poised to cash in on Thailand's 900-million-baht plant-based food industry through the launch of its plant-based food products next month.
Cruawan Varunpaichit, business executive officer at Food and Nestle Professional, Nestle Indochina, said the company's "Harvest Gourmet'' plant-based food brand will be made available mainly to restaurant chains.
"Plant-based food is one of the business trends that is capturing consumers' interest. At present, it is found that more than 25% of the Thai population prioritised plant-based protein intake," said Ms Cruawan.
"The trend has been practised not only by vegetarians but also those who decided to cut down their meat intake due to health reasons and pro-environmental behaviour.''
According to Ms Cruawan, Thailand will be the fourth country in which Harvest Gourmet plant-based food has been launched after China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Plant-based meat alternative products have been made available worldwide several years ago, but their popularity has grown over the past 4-5 years thanks to menu varieties and consumers' health concerns.
Global demand for plant-based meat alternatives has grown by an average of 30% a year, with that of the Asian market growing 20% a year.
Thailand's plant-based market is estimated at 900 million baht, with an average growth of 25% per year. These products are now available in some restaurants and restaurant chains such as Sizzler. McDonald's is scheduled to launch its plant-based menus this year.
"Plant-based trends are undeniably growing. This is a good sign as it means Thai people tend to take care of their health more. It is the right time and a good opportunity to introduce Harvest Gourmet to Thai customers as a new food alternative that is nutritious and environmentally-friendly,'' she said.
Harvest Gourmet comes in a variety of options such as burgers, mince, chargrilled pieces, schnitzels and meatballs, which are made from natural soybean and other plant-based ingredients such as beetroot concentrate and carrot extract for natural colouring and coconut oil.
Ms Cruawan said Harvest Gourmet targets health enthusiasts and people on weight-control diets.
Currently, these people consume plant-based food once per week and have the opportunity to increase consumption quantity.