Korean Companies Compete for Expanding Alternative Meat Market
Large South Korean businesses are rushing to nurture their meat alternative food businesses in response to the rapidly growing demand for plant-based foods regarded as more environmentally sustainable and healthier, as well as rising investor expectations regarding ESG (environment, social, and governance) metrics.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, nearly 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans come from livestock supply chains. Therefore, plant-based meat alternatives have the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions from traditional livestock farming.
Bloomberg recently predicted that the global market for plant-based processed foods, including meat alternatives, will increase from $29.4 billion in 2020 to $162 billion by 2030. The alternative meat market is anticipated to increase from $4 billion to $74 billion over the same period.
Alternatives to animal protein are anticipated to replace 30 per cent of the global meat market by 2030 and more than 60 per cent by 2040, according to research from the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), as the number of vegetarians rises in tandem with environmental and animal welfare concerns.
Lotte Group, the fifth largest conglomerate in Korea, has been investing in food tech firms since the launch of its 'Future Diet' initiative. One result is the use of plant-based alternative meats for vegetable steamed buns from Lotte Confectionery. Lotte Fine Chemical has already invested over 200 billion won ($151.8 million) in the development of methylcellulose, which is used as a meat-like texture enhancer in meat replacements.
Shinsegae Group has just introduced a pork substitute called Ham Cold Cut (sliced ham) and begun selling 50 plant-based meat substitutes at 'The Better,' Seoul's first plant-based meat deli.
The country’s instant noodle giant Nongshim has an alternative food brand called `Vege Garden`. The brand features alternative meat products applied with high moisture meat analogues (HMMAs), independently developed by the company’s affiliate Taekyung Nongsan for a meat-like texture and juicy flavour.
SK invested 54 billion won in 2020 and an additional 65 billion won in 2019 in the San Francisco-based alternative protein company Perfect Day, the world's first manufacturer of animal-free milk protein.
Hanwha Solutions has invested tens of billions of won in the American alternative meat startup Finless Foods, after its investment in the American cultured pork startup New Age Meats last year.