15 March 2023, Singapore: Start-up company Meatless Kingdom has been chosen as the winner of Asia-Pacific Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge, an innovation challenge with the goal of helping plant-based protein start-ups in Asia accelerate bringing their products to market. The challenge included 30 companies, competing in a six-month long contest, of which Meatless Kingdom emerged as the winner.
To truly become a solution for the growing population and complement conventional proteins, meat and seafood alternatives need to be viable options that are able to meet consumer demand for taste, texture, nutrition and food transparency. The competition focused on attaining scalability, fostering innovation, and bringing unique value propositions for consumers through authentic tastes and textures. It facilitated the exchange of innovative ideas, in-depth technical expertise, and commercial knowledge, to overcome the challenges that start-ups typically experience in the journey of developing market-ready solutions.
The teams and sponsors worked in tandem over six months to drive and bolster growth in the alternative proteins space. Together, they explored the use of innovative ingredients from micro algae to lupine, in addition to essential building blocks such as pea protein and specialty starches, to create alternative protein products like plant-based tuna alternatives. Throughout, the goal was to improve the overall eating experience and optimize the manufacturing process to scale production. Meatless Kingdom was selected as the winner with their plant-based bak kwa (barbecued meat), an Asian inspired plant-based protein that offers an affordable and attractive sensorial experience, while Eighth Day Foods was selected as the first runner up for their innovative product, a plant protein derived from lupine that offers a clean taste profile.
“We feel honoured to be the first winner of the Asia-Pacific Scale It Up! Innovation Challenge. This experience has enriched our knowledge and competency about product development in the alternative protein space. We hope this achievement will be a source of inspiration to more food technology start-ups, especially in Indonesia,” said Widya Putra, CEO and Co-founder of Meatless Kingdom.
“Winning the support of Buhler, Cargill and Givaudan has been transformational for Eighth Day Foods. Their willingness to share their expertise has already made a huge difference to the market readiness of our product and their ongoing support is incredibly valuable to us as we embark on the commercialisation and scaling of our innovative protein,” said Lloyd Wilkins, COO, Eighth Day Foods.
“Innovating a sustainable food supply is at the core of Bühler’s mission. This challenge has provided an excellent opportunity for talented start-ups from APAC to work alongside us to innovate, experiment, and to explore new avenues for sourcing and scaling fantastic ideas,” said Dr Aparna Venkatesh, Regional Innovation Lead, Bühler Group. “It has been an absolute pleasure being part of the finalists’ journey and we’re excited to continue supporting in bridging the gap to commercialization! The passion and drive I saw from the start-ups in discovering solutions was admirable; I hope others are inspired by this challenge, and we see more acceleration of these innovators.”
“The creativity and the spirit of innovation shown by the start-ups has been inspiring. I believe this has been an insightful experience for all the start-ups involved, and they are able to take away more refined prototypes which are a step closer to commercialization. The unique ideas conceptualized, signal that the future of plant-based protein alternatives is bright in Asia-Pacific. Meatless Kingdom brings to the table an innovative product which delivers on taste, smell and price. We collaborated with the team to further improve their product by providing functional systems to closely emulate the taste and texture of bak kwa, thus making their product more attuned to the Asian consumer palate,” shared Kok Wei Beh, Technical Leader Asia, Cargill.
“This Scale It Up! challenge was an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with, support, and ultimately help accelerate innovative start-ups from APAC in their effort to solve the growing need for great-tasting alternative proteins. Combining the experience and capabilities of the sponsor companies with the innovative mindset and technologies from the start-ups really can lead to breakthrough solutions. The inspiration, creativity and innovation that the finalists brought to the table were so strong that it made selecting a winner very difficult! I’m sure we will see much more from all of the companies involved,” said Michele van der Walt, Head of Regional Innovation, APAC Taste and Wellbeing, Givaudan.
As the winner and first runner-up of the challenge, Meatless Kingdom and Eighth Day Foods will receive access and usage of the state-of-the-art Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore, continued sharing of knowledge and expertise from the three sponsor companies, as well as ingredients such as pea protein, speciality oils and starches from Cargill.
With the completion of the three highly successful challenges in North America, Europe, and now Asia-Pacific, the sponsor companies will be launching the second edition of the challenge, bringing it back to North America.
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