Insights from Southeast Asia: From Sustainability to Foodverse
Turbo-Charging Food Sustainability in Southeast Asia
The strain on our world's resources has spurred companies, investors, and technology incubators to move towards providing sustainable food options and increased consumers' demand for plant-based foods. However, the market for plant-based alternatives in Southeast Asia is still emerging, and more work can be done to educate the consumer and bridge the taste gaps of plant-based foods.
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its direst warning on the strain on the world's natural resources due to adverse weather changes and its severe repercussions on global food security.
In response, the agri-food sector is working alongside companies, investors, and technology incubators, to rapidly transform the industry by bolstering climate resiliency, sustainable food production, and reducing food waste across the supply chain. The move follows Temasek, a Singapore state investor, investing USD 8 billion in the global farm-to-fork value chain. In response to insufficient contract-manufacturing capacity and capabilities for alternatives in the Asian region, Temasek, via the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform (ASF) platform and Cremer, has also invested SGD 6 million to produce plant-based alternative proteins through high-moisture extrusion (HME) technology.
Additionally, Southeast Asian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their food consumption. This has led to changing attitudes regarding sustainability: avoiding food waste, limiting packaging, and buying locally produced food. Younger consumers are moving towards plant-based diets and proteins as well.
Despite the global plant-based market exceeding USD 162 billion in eight years, consumers still lack awareness of its benefits and are unwilling to pay a higher price. The future is clear: More research can be done to localise the taste of plant-based foods to drive consumer demand, which would, in turn, scale up manufacturers' production and drive prices down.
Foodverse – Where Food and Technology Collide
Virtual reality is the next big frontier in the food and beverage (F&B) industry. More F&B companies are moving towards this high-growth sector as they use it to create interactive experiences such as games, exclusive offers, and online supermarket shopping portals for customers to experience the brand in a whole new way!
The keywords such as metaverse, foodverse, blockchain, and cryptocurrency are becoming more common as more F&B companies aim to stake their claim in the sector worth 1.1 trillion by 2024.
In the metaverse world, consumers can simulate real life and more as an avatar in gaming, shopping, socialising, holidays, and even property. This has spilt over to Asia's F&B industry, where companies are using packaging materials as a portal into virtual and augmented realities. One such example is Pizza Hut's Augmented Reality campaign, where consumers could use their digital devices to scan pizza boxes to get exclusive offers or enjoy other interactive experiences, including video games.
OneRare is also another notable participant in this new foodverse universe. As the world's first tokenisation platform for food on the blockchain through an immersive and gamified experience, it uses the NFT economy to create interaction and trade between play-to-earn gamers and NFT collectors. In addition to educating consumers about the blockchain, OneRare also features global cuisines, special diets (keto/vegan), and exclusive collaborations with celebrity chefs, restaurants, and Web3 projects. The highlight of OneRare is in the kitchen, where users can claim dish NFTs by collecting ingredients as per recipes.
Likewise, within Southeast Asia, Thailand-based Central Food Retail has collaborated with Singapore firm Zipmex to launch the region's first digital supermarket in the blockchain-powered metaverse for seamless shopping experiences and real-time online access to products and services.
The digital world expects a promising outlook in Asia as F&B companies tap on new opportunities to drive revenue and increase customer awareness to get ahead of the curve.