Malaysian-Hong Kong food tech startup Phuture Foods will launch a vegan pork meat alternative in Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian destinations in the coming months. The company is eyeing the Asian market especially given the recent epidemic of African swine fever, which is causing a major pork shortage as millions of diseased pigs across the region are culled. While American and European plant-based alternatives mimic beef products suited for Western dishes, Phuture Foods focuses on catering to pork-heavy Asian cuisines. The company is geared towards offering alternatives that suit South East Asian habits, for example ensuring that their products are Halal and Buddhist-friendly.
In a recent interview with SAYS, Chief Operating Officer Lim Jin Yin said: “Pork is the most widely consumed animal protein [in Asia], but it’s also one of the most problematic. Recently, African swine fever has hit the whole pork industry hard. That is the reason why we chose to work on pork first before moving onto other plant-based meat products.”
Phuture Foods’s friendly meat substitute is made of wheat, mung beans and shiitake mushrooms. While Silicon Valley food tech companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have produced products suitable for more internationally inspired cuisines, Phuture Foods are looking to capitalise on the Asian market with their Halal-friendly pork alternative. Asia is home to countries like Malaysia and Singapore with significant Muslim populations who do not eat pork as it is not considered halal. To cater to Buddhist cultures, their products contain no alliums such as garlic and onion. The company is also looking to develop chicken and lamb substitutes, for which they hope to be able to obtain a kosher certification.
The startup not only hopes to make their product accessible across different cultures in Asia, they also want to leave a positive impact on the planet. According to Phuture Foods, those who consume their pork product saves 1,100 gallons of water and 30 square feet of forest each day. By creating a product that does not sacrifice on the taste and texture of meat, the company hopes to change food consumption habits that are typically meat-heavy, and reduce the pollution generated from intensive livestock farming.
Phuture Foods’ Minced Pork has a strong nutritional profile too-it containes all nine essential amino acids, vitamin B12 and iron and is free of cholesterol and antibiotics.
This comes at a time when the demand in Asia for meat alternatives is at an all-time high, especially after the African swine fever has swept the region. In China alone, more than 100 million pigs have been culled due to the epidemic, which has created “pork shortages” as the country approaches its Golden Week holiday.
This perhaps explains why Green Monday’s Omnipork has taken the region by storm: since its launch last year in Hong Kong, the minced pork alternative has expanded to Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and are looking to enter the Chinese market momentarily. China’s own Zhenmeat has also developed a variety of fungus and pea-based meat products, all tailored to be used in local delicacies like mooncakes and dim sum.