Meat Avatar ramps up restaurant talks
Meat Avatar Co, a food technology startup partially owned by Mitr Phol Group, Asia's largest sugar producer, is stepping up talks with leading restaurant chains to provide its plant-based dishes at their outlets to cash in on continuously growing demand for plant-based meat amid higher pork prices.
Wiphu Loetsuraphibun, the co-founder of Meat Avatar, said the company aims to provide plant-based meat to be used as raw material for each menu, and co-develop menus to be sold at restaurants and modern retail outlets.
Discussions are being held with restaurant chains, including Iberry Group, Audrey Café, Hua Seng Hong, and three leading Thai restaurant chains which asked not to be named.
Moreover, the company is also talking with street food stalls to provide plant-based food.
"The Covid-19 outbreaks have resulted in a short supply of meat," said Mr Wiphu. "Prices of plant-based meat are competitive against meat prices. Therefore, there is an opportunity for plant-based meat to grow not only because of price competitiveness, but also sustainability, environmentally-friendliness and health issues."
According to Mr Wiphu, the company hopes Thais will have easier access to plant-based meat menus at street food stores across the country over the next decade.
"Plant-based meat products are very promising. We believe that plant-based meat is not just hype, but is a sustainable alternative food because several big meat producers have jumped into this market over the last year,'' Mr Wiphu said, saying that this is why Mitr Phol Group invested in Meat Avatar Co.
With Mitr Phol as its strategic partner, the sugar producer giant will help to technologically support Meat Avatar to upscale its production, experience and network both domestically and overseas.
Thailand's food industry is worth almost 400 billion baht per year, so it has huge potential for non-meat products, Mr Wiphu said.
In a related development, Meat Avatar has recently extended its plant-based meat product line by launching the "Matan'' brand to be sold via modern retail channels.
For the Matan brand, the firm will expand its business via three business models: brand collaboration, original equipment manufacturer, and its own brand.
Categories that are in its business pipeline include curry paste, ice cream, confectionery, dairy products, ready-to-eat and canned food.
The firm plans to export its plant-based meat to the Asean region this year. The top three priority markets are Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
"Plant-based products have gained more popularity in Singapore over the past two years with more than 50% of restaurants there providing plant-based dishes. Singaporeans are now familiar with plant-based food and they have high spending power with little logistic hurdles given its adjacency to Thailand,'' Mr Wiphu said.
With such strategies, the firm expects its sales to reach 100 million baht this year, up from over 30 million baht last year. Of the total sales, 70% of this year's revenues will come from retail business, both Avatar and Matan, and the remaining 30% will be from the business-to-business channels through which the firm provides plant-based raw material to restaurant chains.