In Southeast Asia, there’s nothing that brings people together more than good food. It's fitting then that food technology (or better known as foodtech) is setting the region abuzz with cutting-edge innovation when it comes to the food we consume. These days, more and more startups are taking on the challenge of revolutionising the food business, whether it’s through artificial meat, AI algorithms, online marketplaces, cloud kitchens and subscription-based business models.
Amid this foodtech boom, Southeast Asia has emerged as the prime market to watch due to a growing demand for food security and sustainability solutions. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the Asia-Pacific region has to ramp up food production by a staggering 77% to feed its nine billion people by the year 2050.
Here we’ve gathered the region’s top foodtechs that should be on your radar 一 and perhaps one day, on your menu.
Since its founding in 2018, Shiok Meats has established itself as a trailblazer in the cell-based meatspace. Rather than focusing on chicken or beef, the foodtech produces cruelty-free shrimp, crab and lobster meat made from stem cells. Despite being relatively young, the company has had many milestones. Last November, they hosted the world’s first tasting event that featured cell-based lobster meat. Fast forward to July 2021, the company raised US$30 million in capital from investors such as Vinh Hoan Corporation, a key player in Vietnam’s seafood industry. Their goal? To see Shiok Shrimp replace mass-market shrimp and have it widely available in supermarkets and restaurants.
The folks at Grain were pioneers of the full stack model in the F&B world, which involves developing their own tech platform for placing orders, cooking out of a cloud kitchen, and curating their own menu that’s prepared by their own chefs. Even the meals are delivered by Grain’s own. Gone are the days where F&B businesses need a brick and mortar storefront to operate. Thanks to the cloud kitchen concept, Grain is able to whip up healthy and affordable meals without being bogged down by high F&B rental costs.
Flash Coffee’s founders believe that a good cuppa shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Synonymous with their striking yellow and pink cups (and storefront), Flash Coffee is more than just a CBD staple. Flipping the concept of the traditional coffee chain on its head, Flash Coffee runs on a unique retail model that utilises automation to cut down significant overhead and digitalise the offline processes of a typical cafe. Today, the fast-expanding startup has 50 outlets across Singapore, Indonesia and Bangkok. They recently secured a staggering US$15 million in Series A funding with plans to expand the business further into 10 new markets across the region such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea.
It’s no secret that the way we consume meat is unsustainable. That’s why a growing number of companies are inventing new and brilliant ways to recreate meat from plants. Having only launched last October, the brand is set to take the US market by storm following an exceptionally successful fundraising round. The total amount grew 3x from US$10 million to US$30 million. A promising takeup rate thus far, you can find Tindle plant-based chicken in over 70 restaurants in Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Farm-fresh produce sourced from over 200 farms and food manufacturers and delivered to your doorstep within 36 hours is Open Taste in a nutshell. If you’re a big fan of farmer’s markets, Open Taste is right up your alley. The startup’s competitive edge over bigger players involves working directly with farmers and passing the savings on to their customers. Their convenient (and free) delivery is also a big plus. Their innovative online marketplace also offers slashed prices for bulk orders, perfect for big families and close-knit neighbours looking to stock up their pantries.
As passionate coffee connoisseurs themselves, the co-founders of Perk Coffee set out to create a one-of-a-kind coffee subscription service that brings freshly roasted coffee to your doorstep. As it is highly customisable, you can ensure a regular delivery according to your desired frequency. Fun fact: coffee beans are shipped out within 48 hours of roasting for optimum freshness. Today, Perk has a presence in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia with plans to establish themselves in the e-commerce space.
Specialising in pork alternatives, Phuture Foods is a Malaysia-based foodtech that whips up vegan-friendly pork meat with a combination of chickpeas, soy, lycopene, beetroot juice extract and pea and rice protein. The result? A plant-based meat that cooks and tastes like the real deal. Due to the high demand of pork in the Asian market, the startup has set its sights on launching their products in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Their most recent product, Phuture Mince, will be included in menus at over 350 F&B outlets in Singapore.
The well-loved Indonesia-based coffee chain Kopi Kenangan has experienced tremendous growth since their inception in 2017. Propelled by their mission in bringing high quality Indonesian coffee to the greater Asian region, the chain has grown to more than 400 outlets in Indonesia and sold more than 30 million cups in 2020 alone. The future is only looking brighter from here, as they’ve successfully raised US$109 million in series B funding, with plans to expand to the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Kopi Kenangan’s signature drinks that put them on the map include iced coffee, tapioca pearl milk tea and boba.
Sustenance creates nutritious plant-based meal replacement shakes for those who have no time to whip up healthy meals from scratch. Through their ethos on using minimally processed whole foods in their shakes, they are dispelling the myth that drinkable shakes are mostly made from artificial ingredients一 or synonymous with MLMs. At the rate Sustenance is scaling, their honest take on shakes is a clear winner. Since its founding in 2017, they raked in more than 6x their revenue with plans to expand into more markets.
Read our full article with the founders at Sustenance here.
Thanks to advances in biotechnology, the Turtle Tree folks have found a way to harvest milk without a cow in sight. Driven by their mission to build a cruelty-free and sustainable future, Turtle Tree’s dairy and infant nutrition products are made from extracted cells in a lab with 98% less carbon footprint. Apart from cell-based cow’s milk, the foodtech also produces milk that matches the nutritional value of human milk. Founded in 2019, they successfully raised US$6.2 million in their most recent pre-series A funding round with plans to develop at a more widespread and commercial scale.
Read our feature on Turtle Tree’s co-founder here.
This Ho Chi Minh city-based foodtech is one-of-a-kind. Simply order your groceries from multiple partner stores on their platform and expect it to be delivered to your doorstep in one hour. Together with an unparalleled customer service experience that provides support in both Vietnamese and English, Chopp’s speedy convenience has won the hearts of many 一 including investors such as 500 startups, Vemanti Group and BEENEXT. To date, they’ve raised a total of US$150,000 in funding.