Asia’s once-flourishing F&B industry underwent massive turmoil following the drastic effects of the pandemic. But this hiccup has not stopped up-and-coming startups from making a difference and taking the initiative to build up sustainability. Read on to learn about some of the notable food entrepreneurs in APAC making a change.
As the world and businesses shift to sustainability-focused models, the F&B industry in Asia is shifting its priorities to caring for the environment without compromising the needs of consumers. Over 70% of F&B companies have planned investments from 2021 to 2026 focusing on the development of sustainable products, waste management, and recycling. Entrepreneurs are leaving no stone unturned to bring new, original, and self-sustaining concepts into the food space, from venture capitals funding innovation in the industry, to utilising artificial intelligence (AI) technology to build sustainable food systems, to introducing modern wellness solutions in food.
Continue reading to learn about the food entrepreneurs leading remarkable startups making a change in APAC’s F&B industry.
Food waste is a global issue and many companies have emerged to fight it effectively. Singapore’s Lumitics, co-founded by Rayner Loi and Keshav Sivakumar, is one of the many startups working towards global food waste reduction. Through their technology, chefs can now easily measure, track, and identify food waste, with an AI-powered tracker designed to be installed on top of a dustbins. The data generated provides actionable insights such as removing or improving menu items that were more frequently wasted.
Along with the aviation and hospitality sectors, Rayner plans to delve into various industries including but not limited to hospitals, central kitchens, and farms, hence, leading Asia to become a less wasteful society.
A serial entrepreneur in the food and tech space, Victor Chen is the founder and CEO of the first Taiwan-based AgriFood tech venture capital and accelerator, Foodland Ventures. Victor aims to provide a platform connecting global industry resources to AgriFood tech founders. Due to ever-changing consumer behaviours and the urgency of sustainability, the AgriFood industry is struggling to keep up. Victor works with representatives of major F&B corporations to facilitate innovation through startup acceleration investments and programmes.
Recently, FoodTech firm Lypid secured a seed round of US$4 million from its investors, led by Foodland Ventures. Lypid’s PhytoFat imitates animal fats to deliver a sustainable and tastier fat alternative for plant-based foods, and provides an authentic meatlike mouthfeel, paving the way toward a plant-based society.
Thailand is home to a robust agricultural industry, with 43.28% of its land devoted to the cultivation of fresh produce. While local harvest is not only sustainable but also sufficient enough to feed a large number of the population, it is not directly accessible to many. Ponglada Paniangwet was working at a local wholesale fresh market when she witnessed these complications within the supply chain network. As an insider, she decided to innovate a technological solution to simplify the distribution processes.
Serving fresh greens from farm to table, Freshket was co-founded by Ponglada and Tuangploi Chiwalaksanangkoon in 2017, a modern-day FoodTech solution that has since streamlined the local supply chain, offering fair prices through their one-stop e-commerce marketplace for restaurants, as well as households. In addition, her initiatives further aim at enabling a sustainable food supply ecosystem throughout the region and beyond.
Rising vegan star based in Hong Kong, Melody Liang, started her entrepreneurial journey when she introduced her modern-day wellness concept- MOMO Almond Drink, and other plant-based food staples to the city. Her calling for eco-consciousness draws back to her active lifestyle and yoga practice, which led her to make some essential lifestyle changes.
Melody, being keen to experiment and explore her untapped potential, made her very own homemade nut milk, which eventually came to be the face of her brand. The almond crusher’s new modified drink recipe is one that is crafted from high-quality almonds, with zero preservatives, thickeners, and additives, for vegan and health-conscious souls.
Anastasia Trofimova & Anna Sjöharald
As the plant-based revolution progresses, many consumers are shifting towards more sustainable eating habits, and brands are innovating in the field to meet this demand. Two Swedish entrepreneurs, Anastasia Trofimova and Anna Sjöharald identified this as an opportunity and developed Your Beet, a FoodTech app based in Melbourne. The women-founded platform aspires to bring simplistic and delicious plant-based recipes to support diverse dietary needs, and secured SEK6 million in a funding round last year to further expand their reach.
The health and wellbeing of their consumers as a top priority, the two entrepreneurial spirits have thoughtfully curated nutritious, well-balanced, and appetising recipes, from main courses, spreads and salads, to after-workout pick-me-ups, natural smoothies, and more. Labelled as the up-and-coming Spotify of plant-based food, the app helps design personalised weekly meal plans to allow customers to keep track of their nutritional goals, taste preferences, and personal dietary needs.
When it comes to the food sector, wastage and unsustainable practices have been a growing concern, contributing to approximately 6 million tonnes of edible food waste in Japan alone. To tackle the issue, Alexander Fellner co-founded Aranea, a BioTech platform incorporating fermentation technology to upcycle food waste and transform leftovers into high-protein superfoods, in 2021 with Gavin Dixon. While Alexander grew up in Austria, fragments of his Japanese heritage still remained close to him. He went on to develop the concept inspired by his passion for social entrepreneurship, while upcycling his own past experiences, and passion for the planet.
Aranea offers a flexible and adaptable formula for the F&B sector to reduce surplus products, working with some of the largest food wasters to promote a sustainable and circular food system.
Taku Tanaka is the founder of Kamereo, Vietnam’s pioneering B2B food marketplace for local restaurants to source and secure fresh ingredients. Taku left his investment banking job in the United States to explore his passion for F&B. The Japanese-born entrepreneur moved to Vietnam, and worked as the COO at a local food chain, Pizza 4Ps, soon realised an operational disadvantage faced by many restaurants in the industry, and developed his seamless food distribution network to ease the procurement process.
Leveraging Kamereos’ proprietary tech-enabled solution, the platform came to the aid of numerous businesses by enhancing supply chain efficacy and cutting costs for businesses, while obtaining only the finest quality and freshest products alongside improving farmers’ livelihoods through its extensive work.