According to a recent study conducted by Marketbuzz among 1,000 Thais in August 2022, 68% of them claim they eat regular diets with meat and almost one third claim to eat alternative diets, primarily vegetables (14% Vegan, 7% Flexitarian, 6% Vegetarian and 4% Pescetarian).
In terms of future consumption, the intention to cut down on more meat is even higher with 65% of Thais claiming they intend to eat less meat in the future, and this is especially so for women and those aged 45 years or older. The main motivations are for better health, and wanting to improve their overall health (41%), or specific to reduce cholesterol/blood fat due to risk of a stroke or heart disease (29%), reduce digestive problems (29%), or to lose weight (19%). In addition to the health-related reasons, 19% of Thais also think that eating less meat helps protects the animal’s life.
According to Mr. Grant Bertoli, CEO of Marketbuzz, "The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt heightened global health consciousness, and this has added a new wave of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy foods. This is one of the biggest trends of recent times and it is clear that health-related priorities are likely to become one of the most influential factors driving plant-based meat sales. Thailand is not an exception as many new brands have entered the market to capture shares in this expanding industry during the past few years.”
The Marketbuzzz survey also reveals that around two-thirds of Thais are aware of plant-based meat, yet just over a third claim they are knowledgeable about the product. This is a similar number to those who have tried plant-based meat products, although most is coming from vegetarians (89%) and vegans (60%) and also the younger generation who are 15-24 years old (52%). People feel that plant-based meat contains high nutritional value, which is a main reason why they eat it (30%). Other reasons include health benefits (29%), as well as the perception of being cool & trendy (24%), good taste (23%) and ease of preparation (22%).
Given the ongoing trend towards reducing meat consumption, there has been many brands and products that have entered the market. Interestingly, there is currently no dominant player in the Thai market, as consumption share is comparatively similar across many brands. However, Meat Zero, OMG Meat, First Pride, and Let’s Plant Meat are the most popular brands at this point. When asked about type of product they wish to buy, its fish or shrimp which is more popular and ready-to-eat meals like rice or spaghetti, either chilled or frozen, are on top of the lists. Other menu items include Chicken breast, sausage, fish tofu, ground pork or beef, meatballs, and crispy pork.
Mr. Grant Bertoli, CEO of Marketbuzz, commented on the findings, stating that there are opportunities for players in plant-based meat market, but it is critical for the companies to develop products that can directly replace normal meat components in Thai dishes. The most significant barriers to increasing plant-based consumption are the difficulty in finding stores that sell this product (35%) and the high price (34%).
With the expected ongoing trend in reducing meat consumption, brands and retailers will have to look at increasing distribution to make sure it’s easy to find and available and adjust to the reality where plant-based meats are in demand. Marketing will be critical in this too, to help promote the range of plant-based dishes as tasty and healthy alternatives too”.
Mr. Grant Bertoli added, "Despite the higher price of alternative protein sources, consumers are willing to pay more due to the health benefits. The question is how much and providing it’s an ‘affordable’ premium then it’s expected to only boost consumption – most Thai consumers are willing to pay a 5-10% premium for plant-based alternatives to conventional meat.
The promise of plant-based meat alternatives to lessen the health impacts of meat consumption ultimately depend on market acceptance and the extent to which they displace meat in consumers’ diets. It is clear that his growing market provides opportunities for brands to be brave and gain market share. Increasing brand awareness and increasing retailer visibility for plant-based products with the right price position will no doubt underpin the growth as the popularity of plant-based alternatives continues to gather momentum. The interesting part is which brands will ultimately win!
Marketbuzzz connects mobile, tablet and pc users interested in completing surveys with market researchers who need their opinions. Through our partnerships with dozens of leading mobile app we’re able to reach an audience exceeding 12 million people in Thailand.