Top 10 stories on Meat Insider in 2021  

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Rising incomes, the desire for more animal protein, food safety issues, and lifestyle changes have been driving meat processing and consumption in Asia.

In the past year, Meat Insider followed and tracked the developments and challenges in the meat processing and marketing sector in Asia, as new waves of Covid-19 continued to plague the industry. We found dramatic changes as processors reinvented their operations and retail to meet with the changing demand landscape.

Key trends and challenges for plant-based food in Thailand
The plant-based food market in Thailand will become more competitive, as new players enter the market and food developers create new products. This will drive down prices of plant-based foods. The plant-based food market in Thailand is currently growing 2-10% annually, with growth projected to reach 10-35% annually. The market is expected to grow to USD 1.5 billion in 2024, according to Krungthai Compass Research Center. The market includes plant-based meat, milk, meal and egg and it was valued at USD 935 million in 2019.

Meat consumption predicted to grow in Asean
The industry is rife with news of raising meat consumption and plans for market growth as research predicts a surge in demand. Producers and marketing bodies are strategizing on ways to draw consumers through novel offerings.

Five Guys burger joint launched in Malaysia
American chain Five Guys burger has been launched in Malaysia at Genting Highlands, Pahang. The popular brand has gone somewhat ‘Halal’ (without the Islamic Board’s official certification) in the predominantly Muslim country by being pork and pork-lard free. The launch of Five Guys signals the Malaysian economy’s road to recovery while the government sets the stage to welcome foreign tourism into the country soon.

Meat and poultry spending will grow in Thailand
Meat and poultry spending in Thailand will grow by an annual average of 5.4% up to 2025, with per capita spending increasing from USD 87.9 in 2007 to USD 233.6 in 2025. Total meat consumption per capita including pork, poultry, and beef, will grow by a compound annual growth rate of 1.9%, increasing from 41.8kg in 2007 to 58.7kg in 2025, according to Fitch Solutions. Poultry will remain the most consumed meat throughout this period, accounting for 66.6% of total meat consumed in 2025.

Thai Union to launch plant-based shrimp product
Thai Union, which owns John West and Chicken of the Sea will be debuting a plant-based shrimp product in 2021. The company’s vegan shrimp will be a tempura-style product and follows its recent launch of its first plant-based products such as crab cakes and dim sum for the food-service sector. The company joins other large corporations foraying into the plant-based sector in response to increased demand for vegan seafood globally, as well as a growing shift towards plant-based diets in Thailand.

Thailand imports vaccine for lumpy skin disease
Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development (DLD) has imported 60,000 vaccine doses for lumpy skin disease from Intervet International BV. The vaccine arrived at the airport on May 30, 2021. The DLD plans to import another 300,000 vaccine doses. The first batch of the vaccine will be distributed in the infected areas. Lumpy skin disease has spread to 35 provinces, with 7200 cattle affected and 53 succumbing to it.

Meat consumption shifting towards poultry
Poultry meat will continue to be the primary driver of meat production growth, as consumers favor poultry due to lower prices, product adaptability, higher protein, and lower fat content. OECD-FAO’s Agricultural Outlook for 2021-2030 stated that globally, poultry meat consumption is expected to represent 41% of all the protein from meat sources in 2030, an increase of 2% compared to the previous period. The global shares of other meat products are lower: pork (34%), beef (20%), and sheep meat (5%).

Animal protein companies ramp up investments in Asia
To meet rising demand, leading animal protein producers plan big investment to boost production capacity, automation, and the number of retail channels in Asia. Tyson Foods, a major US meat processor, is planning for six new chicken processing plants in Asia. It plans to invest over USD 1.3 billion in new automation capabilities over the next three years to increase yields and reduce labor costs. A growing population, especially in Asia, has boosted demand for meats and plant-based proteins. Combined with shipping and logistics headwinds caused by Covid-19, demand for meat has been a driver in rising global food prices. New plants in Asia could cut down these impacts and contribute to a better price landscape.

Demand for plant-based food options grows in Indonesia
Plant-based fast food is becoming more popular across Indonesia, prompted by greater consumer awareness of health, sustainability, and animal welfare, with many food chains across the country jumping on the trend. Starbucks partnered with Green Rebel, a brand of plant-based meat founded by the creators behind Indonesia’s largest vegan chain Burgreens, to launch three new meat-free items across more than 50 locations in Jakarta and Bali. In May 2021, fast-food major Burger King launched the Plant-Based Whopper, made with a vegan beef patty supplied by Unilever subsidiary The Vegetarian Butcher.

Indonesia’s chicken meat consumption drops by 48%
Indonesia’s chicken meat consumption contracted 48% from the 3.1mt targeted in 2021, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, worse than 2020 when consumption decreased by 36%. Isy Karim, Director of Basic and Essential Goods at the Ministry of Trade, said the downturn was caused by movement restrictions to control the Covid-19 pandemic. He explained that disruptions in hotel and restaurant operations reduced consumption, which was made worse by a similar decline in household consumption.

Joint-Editor, Asian Meat Magazine and Meat Insider, Bangkok, Thailand. The African swine fever hitting the pig industry in Thailand as kept Payungsak busy, writing, ‘Support required for small-scale pig farms affected by ASF’ for the Pig Health Monitor.