In the lead up to Summit Asia 2022 – Bridge2Food’s first event in the APAC region – we are excited to connect with Lisa Ronquest-Ross about affordability and accessibility of plant-based proteins. Lisa is the Head of Science & Technology at v2food, an Australian-based company that produces “delicious, nutritious alternative(s) for anyone who loves the taste of meat but doesn’t want to get it from animals.” v2food is joining the Bridge2Food team as a partner in Singapore from 28 – 30 November for Summit Asia.
What attracted you to work for v2food?
Lisa: I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to use my skills and experience to lead the science and technology program at v2food. It is such an exciting time to be a food scientist, to have a chance to design delicious and affordable plant-based meats that can have an enormously positive impact on human health and planetary impact of our current food systems.
What potential future opportunities do you see for v2food (and affordable & accessible plant proteins in general) in Singapore and southeast Asia?
Lisa: The Asia-Pacific region is currently the most populous region on our planet. In order to achieve v2food’s mission of ‘feeding the planet in a way that takes care of the planet’, we must create solutions that provide delicious, nutritious, safe, sustainable, and affordable solutions to feed the planet, starting with APAC. The region has a myriad of unique cuisines and food customs, most of which feature protein as a significant portion on the plate. The opportunities are endless, so long as we provide plant-based protein solutions in formats and taste profiles that are relevant for each of the unique markets and cultures across the region.
How does v2food address inequality and related challenges surrounding accessibility and affordability of food?
Lisa: v2food really is about the version 2 of the food system and we have relooked all aspects from product formulation, ingredient selection, manufacturing, and supply chain. In addition, we collaborate with key partners that help us to reach scale quickly by leveraging their unique strengths. For example, we partner with the meat industry to manufacture and distribute our products. They have the existing capabilities in terms of equipment and infrastructure, and we are able to utilise this while they are able to participate in the diversification of protein consumption.
From your perspective, why is it important to have affordable & accessible proteins available to all? How do v2food prices compare to traditional meat product prices?
Lisa: As a South African, I am acutely aware of the impact of inequality in our current food system. My purpose has been to use science and technology to positively impact people and the planet. I resonated with v2food’s mission to do just that. We must make products that appeal to all consumers across all markets so that choosing plant-based meats becomes easy with no compromise. Currently, we target our products to be priced at parity to meat, and as meat prices continue to rise we expect we will become more affordable. We also know that the increasing population is expected to grow in emerging markets, and as income per capita increases in those areas, so does meat consumption. We are already exploring ways to reach these consumers with affordable and tasty meat alternatives that align with cultural norms, enhance food safety, and improve food security.
Has v2food experienced push back from farmers, the Australian government, and/or traditional meat lovers?
Lisa: We partner with meat industry companies and have been very clear to the industry that they should not feel unduly threatened. We need to make more meat not less and the Australian meat and livestock industry is already signed up to be carbon neutral by 2030. We did have to work with the industry to push back against some proposed legislation last year (2021) regarding labelling on plant-based meat. It seems that now the government is increasingly positive about the plant-based meat opportunity.
What driving factors for consumers are currently leading them to opt for plant-based proteins in the APAC-region? Do you see any regional differences?
Lisa: In Australia, we see that consumers are driven by health, animal welfare, and environmental concerns to plant-based meats. We see younger millennials driving trial and adoption of this category. Across APAC this is not too dissimilar, however religion, food security, and food safety are also important factors driving consumer adoption of plant-based meat.
Lastly, what is your favourite v2food product?
Lisa: The Rebel Whopper, which was my first taste of v2food. My family and I are also enjoying all our new chicken products too!
We invite you to join us for Summit Asia in Singapore from 28 – 30 November 2022! Be part of the discussion regarding the affordability and accessibility of plant-based proteins, and the larger impact this has on the APAC region.