The meat of the matter
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The meat of the matter

More companies are keen to capitalise on the trend for plant-based protein

A worker packages plant-based meat products at a factory in Ayutthaya, operated by Plant and Bean (Thailand).
A worker packages plant-based meat products at a factory in Ayutthaya, operated by Plant and Bean (Thailand).

Plant-based meat manufacturing is catching the interest of many companies eager to develop a new source of revenue.

Products in this segment have the potential to become “future food” and could be an attractive choice for health-conscious consumers, according to investors.

Local entrepreneurs are partnering with scientists and foreign firms to jointly seek new business opportunities.

Texas Chicken has outlets at PTT petrol stations and partnered with Plant and Bean to add plant-based food to its menu.


One partnership was forged between Thai and British companies to build a new plant-based food production facility in Thailand, which is rich in raw materials.

“Thailand has a variety of raw materials to serve our factory,” said Buranin Rattanasombat, PTT’s senior executive vice-president for new business and infrastructure, as well as chairman of Innobic (Asia), the life sciences arm of PTT Plc.

Innobic and Nove Foods Co, a subsidiary of SET-listed NR Instant Produce, a producer of vegetarian and plant-based food, formed joint venture Nutra Regenerative Protein Co, which teamed up with UK-based Plant and Bean to set up a company to operate a new factory in Ayutthaya.

The new company, named Plant and Bean (Thailand), with 51% investment from Nutra Regenerative Protein and 49% from Plant and Bean, aims to be a key global plant-based food manufacturer selling products domestically and overseas, said Mr Buranin.

Thailand is seen as an attractive investment destination because the cost of making plant-based protein is lower than in the European Union, he said.

Major plant-based meat manufacturers in many countries saw their costs increase after the war between Russia and Ukraine erupted in 2022.

The financial difficulties caused them to relocate their production facilities, with Thailand a prime relocation option, said Mr Buranin.

Lower production costs are a crucial factor for Thailand if the country is to be developed into a regional production hub for plant-based products, he said.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) believes it can profit from this business because the global market value of plant-based products reached US$13 billion in 2022, with the US accounting for 75% of consumers.

Visitors at the 2022 Sustainability Expo in Bangkok are attracted by an ad for plant-based meat. Somchai Poomlard


Plant and Bean (Thailand) and other companies venturing into the sector are competing for customers, aiming to build a stable source of revenue.

The value of the domestic plant-based product market was 1.4 billion baht in 2022, with annual growth estimated at 6-7%.

Mitr Phol Group, a local sugar producer, earlier announced it invested in Meat Avatar Co, a food technology startup, as it plans to diversify into the plant-based meat business, hoping to catch a future food trend in Thailand and overseas.

The company wants to add value to agricultural products by using high technology, paving the way for Mitr Phol to increase revenue.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) predicts many opportunities after several foreign food firms approached the company regarding joint business operations.

One of them is Texas Chicken, the trade name of Church’s Texas Chicken, a US fast food restaurant chain. It partnered with Plant and Bean (Thailand) to add new plant-based food to its menu, aiming to draw younger customers.

Texas Chicken, also a business partner of PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc, has opened outlets at PTT petrol stations.

The new items at Texas Chicken are to be produced by Plant and Bean (Thailand) under the “alt. Eatery” brand.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) wants to produce both ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food, with a similar look and taste to real meat, said Mr Buranin.

The company is going to be an original equipment manufacturer, providing food products for other companies under a business-to-business model.

Plant and Bean’s factory in Ayutthaya is designed to have a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes a year.

The company plans to increase the capacity to 13,000 tonnes annually in two years through investment of 400 million baht.

Examples of plant-based meat burgers displayed at an annual conference of the National Science and Technology Development Agency in 2021.


Mitr Phol is also keen to offer various meat alternatives.

Meat Avatar already developed two products — crispy and minced pork — derived from plants. Crispy and minced pork are key ingredients in a range of local dishes.

In addition to vegan burgers, the company wants to focus on a wide array of plant-based meat to satisfy the diverse tastes of consumers, said Mitr Phol.

Meat Avatar plans to market plant-based food in Southeast Asia after it develops a market in Thailand.

Both Meat Avatar and Mitr Phol Group not only want to be leaders in the plant-based food sector, but also intend to support Thai farmers by adding value to their produce, according to a statement.

A woman explains how to cook meat made from mushrooms during a press conference on new food tech startups. Varuth Hirunyatheb


Demand for plant-based protein is expected to grow as people become more health-conscious and prices in this category remain reasonable.

The production costs for plant-based food range from 100-110 per kilogramme, close to the prices of premium pork sold in Bangkok, but plant-based food has a higher protein content than pork. In terms of nutrients, the former should not be too expensive, said Mr Buranin.

Plant and Bean (Thailand) will ensure its food products are free from genetically modified organisms, he said.

To support the global campaign against climate change, the company’s factory uses clean power from rooftop solar panels in the manufacturing process, said Mr Buranin.

“Thai and foreign customers are concerned where their alternative food, especially plant-based protein, comes from and how it is made,” he said.

Plant and Bean plans to focus on both taste and hygiene issues, said Mr Buranin.

“The food must be yummy to please customers,” he said.


Ubon Bio Ethanol Plc (UBE), a manufacturer of cassava-based products, said it wants to develop new food products in line with the trend in healthcare.

UBE earlier announced it joined hands with experts from Chulalongkorn University to search for special enzymes that can remove certain unwanted characteristics in food, helping the company develop innovative food that better matches consumer demand.

Scientists from Biom Co, a startup spun off from the university, specialise in biotechnology R&D.

The team is conducting a study on enzymes that can be used to develop functional ingredients, which can be applied widely in the production of functional food, as well as some medical and daily use products.

Functional food not only provides nutrients and energy, but also in theory offers health benefits such as modulating functions in the body to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases.

UBE is interested in using enzymes to develop value-added flour products, with plans to produce them on a commercial scale.

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