MANILA – Nestlé aims to double down on its plant-based product lines as it sees more consumers shifting to vegan food options.
In line with this, the company said it is making "massive" investments on research and development for plant-based products while expanding its R&D facilities in Singapore.
Thomas Hauser, Head of Global Product and Technology Development, said, while dairy products remain to be a crucial product line for the company, they've recently expanded their research and development facilities in Singapore to build up their plant-based products.
"It is an important field, yes, it is a massive investment. Also in Singapore, we have created a team to cater to the specific needs," Hauser said.
"We have basically started to build up this competence in the past couple of years."
While Hauser stopped short of sharing their investment in plant-based products, he said, they've been spending 1.6 billion Swiss francs on R&D as a whole, with 300 researchers in Singapore focused on these new product lines.
Among the products that came from R&D Singapore are the Nescafé Gold non-dairy lattes as well as the Starbucks plant-based Silky Soy Latte and Toasted Oat Lattes.
It also supported the development of plant-based meal solutions for the local Harvest Gourmet brand to make sure they're adapted for Asian cuisine such as dumplings, stir fry, braising, katsudon, and more.
"We see really this as a global trend, we see more and more interest in plant-based alternatives for different reasons," said Chris Johnson, Executive Vice President and CEO for Zone Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa.
He explained, more consumers are choosing vegan options for health benefits, sustainability, as well as the rising interest on animal welfare.
"We're seeing very different levels of market development. Very well established are already in the US and in Western Europe. But we see across the board in Zone AOA (Asia, Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa) and including in ASEAN more and more interest in these products and we anticipate that this will be and continue to be and grow into an important category for us," Johnson said.
Just earlier this year, Nestlé opened its first plant-based production facility in Malaysia, a first in Southeast Asia, where it also launched dairy-free versions of its popular chocolate malt beverage, Milo.
The facility manufactures plant-based food products like burger patties, schnitzels, and meat mince, developed using soy, wheat, beetroot, carrot, pomegranate, and blackcurrant.