GlobalData expects Malaysia's plant-based meat alternatives market to grow CAGR of 7.4% over 2023-2027, sees price parity as key for expansion; survey finds only 30% of Malaysians view plant-based alternatives as cheaper than animal-based food

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July 7, 2023 (press release) –

Pricing has become a major pain point for plant-based meat alternatives in light of the cost of living crisis over the past year. Localized production and ingredient sourcing are potential pathways for plant-based protein companies to rationalize product costs. Going forward, price parity will be a key factor in bolstering the growth of the Malaysian meat substitutes market, which is set to expand at a value compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4% over 2023–27*, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, notes: ”Plant-based proteins have gained considerable momentum in Malaysia in recent years, spurred by a flurry of new brands and product launches. Moreover, the increasing availability of these products in online and offline stores and foodservice venues is encouraging Malaysians to experiment with such products. Among meat substitutes categories, soy-based products accounted for the largest share of value sales in Malaysia in 2022*. This is partly due to the high consumer acceptance of soy products in Malaysian, as soy is a staple in the local cuisine. However, GlobalData projects that grain-based meat substitutes will gain the highest traction through 2023*, underpinned by product innovation.”

Tim Hill, Key Account Director at GlobalData Singapore, comments: “GlobalData’s latest consumer survey indicates that health, ethicality/eco-friendliness, flavor/appearance, price, and accessibility are the key success factors for the growth of plant-based meat substitutes in Malaysia. In GlobalData’s Q1 2023 survey, 59% of Malaysian respondents said they were motivated to try plant-based food alternatives as they think these products are healthier**. An additional 46% said that they were motivated to do so as these alternatives are more environmentally friendly or sustainable**. However, only 30% of respondents felt that plant-based food alternatives are generally cheaper than animal-based food**.

Verghese adds: “Price has gained more importance over the last year, with more cost-conscious shoppers opting for cheaper animal-derived meat, milk, eggs, and seafood over plant-based alternatives. This escalated pressure on manufacturers to look for new avenues for rationalizing costs. Even as inflation cools, they will continue to strive to attain price parity between animal meat and plant-based substitutes. Localizing production close to major demand hubs and sourcing more key ingredients from domestic farms is one method that more alternative protein makers are exploring for cost reduction. Using fresh and authentic ingredients can healthify and localize products. Additionally, localization can cut fuel costs and carbon emissions significantly, and thereby elevate the sustainability aspect of the product. Manufacturers in Malaysia can leverage locally cultivated crops such as jackfruit, durian, bamboo, rice, pineapple, and banana to substitute soy protein, which is largely imported.”

Hill concludes: “Alternatively, instead of focusing on price parity with meat, plant-based meat substitutes producers can focus on delivering more value for money with a superfecta of nutrition, taste, sustainability, and localization. Though it is a daunting challenge for research and development teams, developing less processed products with more natural ingredients can also be a great way to add more value to the product. These factors can catapult plant-based meat substitutes beyond the niche consumer base of vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians to the broader mass-retail market. Subsequently, as production volumes increase, and economies of scale are realized, the prices of plant-based proteins will drop progressively.”

* GlobalData Consumer Intelligence Center ­– Market Analyzers, accessed in July 2023

** GlobalData Q1 2023 Consumer Survey­ – Malaysia, with 510 respondents, published in May 2023

Catch up with Tim Hill and Deepak Nautiyal at the Food & Drinks Malaysia Conference MITEC Kuala Lumpur from July 5-6, 2023.

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