Top Thai food firm seeking meat alternative startups

Thailand’s leading private-sector food firm Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), is launching a competition for startups to produce alternative beef.  Plant-based substitutes for meat are gaining a greater foothold in markets worldwide.

CPF will partner with the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit 2021 to host the CPF Innovation Challenge. Charoen Pokphand Foods is the jewel in the crown of CP Group, the Kingdom’s largest agro-industrial conglomerate and a huge regional producer of chickens, shrimps and animal feed.

But with climate change leading many consumers to examine and question the role of big agro-food companies in generating greenhouse gas emissions, CPF is joining the ranks of more progressive food firms in exploring plant-based or alternative proteins.

In a similar vein, Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna exporter, has been funding startups engaged in developing plant-based fish alternatives. And another Thai firm, NR Instant, is aiming to become the Foxconn of alternative proteins by building a massive lab and production facility to manufacture and supply other food companies with alternative proteins.

Lalana Thiranusornkij, Head of Innovation at CPF, said that the company recognizes that plant-based protein is a rapidly growing trend in many markets. However, finding the right ingredients and technologies to make plant-based meat the preferred choice for more consumers is challenging and complex, she said.

“Participating in this challenge is an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to work with a world-class food producer like CPF. They will have the chance to be coached by our executives and co-create the menu with our experienced chefs as well as having the opportunity to do ‘Proof of Concept’ with CPF to upscale the production for commercial purpose,” Lalana said.

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