JAPAN – Japanese dairy giant, Megmilk Snow Brand, has joined arms with Singapore’s Agrocorp International, one of the world’s leading traders in pulses, to form a joint venture (JV) to manufacture and market plant-based ingredients by setting up a processing facility for the ingredients in Malaysia.

According to a spokesperson from Megmilk, the facility will make pea-based ingredients to sell to plant-based manufacturers and for use in a consumer brand marketed by Agrocorp.

“We will own the exclusive rights to sell the plant-based food raw materials manufactured by the company to the Japanese market,” the spokesperson said.

“We expect to sell the raw materials manufactured by the joint venture to existing users of our commercial products business and Japanese food processing manufacturers. In the future, we will develop and sell products utilising the raw materials in our group.”

In addition, the spokesperson revealed that the company which will own 49% of the venture, will first sell the ingredients on a B2B basis but does see future opportunities to launch its consumer-facing products.

“We are looking to sell PBF products in the global market through overseas development of our products and collaboration with Japanese food processing manufacturers,” the spokesperson added.

“The venture is part of its latest “medium-term management plan”, which includes an entry into plant-based food.”

Agrocorp already has a downstream plant-based brand, HerbYvore, that utilises pea protein as its protein source. HerbYvore is addressing the gap in dairy-free cheeses and will launch Singapore’s first plant-based, nut-free cheese range next month.

Research indicates that over the past few years, the popularity of plant-based foods has skyrocketed, and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down.

As more people adopt vegetarian and vegan diets, restaurants are starting to take notice and adjust their menus accordingly.

Plant-based foods are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry, and this trend is only expected to continue in the future.

According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global plant-based food market is expected to reach US$74.2 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9%.

This growth is being driven by a combination of factors, including increasing consumer demand, new product innovations, and more investment in the plant-based food industry.

According to the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes plant-based, fermentation-based and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy investment in alt protein startups in APAC and Australasia rose 43% to US$562m in 2022, against a global backdrop of double-digit declines. Plant-based food investments in the region increased by 30% to US$372 million, added the GFI.

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