The Southeast Asian cultivated meat market is experiencing a significant upswing, driven by rising demand, the entry of new players in emerging markets, and favorable regulatory precedents. This market’s potential for growth is immense, with demand reportedly surging by 300% following educational campaigns, and a pressing need for the region to develop self-sustaining protein sources, suggesting that regional demand could surpass other markets.
Recognizing this opportunity, local startups and industry stakeholders are making strategic investments. At Malaysia’s inaugural cultivated meat conference in March 2023, Cell AgriTech made a groundbreaking announcement—the construction of the country’s first cultivated meat plant, slated to be operational by the end of 2024.
Offshore startups are also capitalizing on the potential of the Southeast Asian region. Aqua Cultured Foods, a portfolio company of Stray Dog Capital, recently secured a seed round of $5.5 million. They are focusing on developing plant-based, whole-muscle seafood using biomass fermentation, catering to the preferences of consumers in this rapidly growing region.
Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua Cultured Foods, emphasized the significance of Southeast Asia, where population growth is concentrated, particularly in China. She explained that with 70% of all seafood consumed in this part of the world, the demand for sustainable alternatives is intensifying due to overfishing and climate change.
While certain products like those offered by Aqua Cultured Foods can be produced through recognized methods without requiring additional regulatory approval, others—such as cultivated meat—must undergo safety assessments before entering the market. However, Singapore’s pioneering move to approve the commercial sale of cultivated meat products in 2020 has set a historic precedent, generating optimism among startups in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, recent regulatory approvals in the United States are expected to further facilitate the evolution of the regional regulatory landscape.
The Southeast Asian cultivated meat market is a dynamic and promising arena, characterized by substantial growth potential, expanding investments, and a favorable regulatory environment. Keep an eye on this space as it continues to shape the future of sustainable protein production in the region.