Jack Yap, the founder and CEO of Phuture Foods, has always been passionate about healthy foods and promoting meatless diets.
But he soon realised that it was very difficult to get consumers to try a vegetarian dish, no matter how creative or innovative it was.
So, he learnt about creating plant-based meat instead and created Phuture Minced, a plant-based version of minced pork.
With our curiosity piqued, we grilled him about the upcoming launch of his company’s first product and the future of food sustainability.
Disrupting The Phuture Of Food
Jack said that he doesn’t see Phuture Foods as a local startup.
Our mission is to disrupt the entire pork industry in Asia as well as globally. We are looking to expand our business to include the entire Asia market.
One such market is Singapore, which Jack described as a global hub in Asia that still retains its own cultural heritage, whether that it is Chinese, Malay, Indian, or the many other cultures there.
“With that, we are able to showcase to the world how our plant-based minced pork can be incorporated into various kinds of cuisines: Chinese cuisine, western cuisine, Korean, Japan, etc.,” he explained.
He noted that the plant-based industry is drawing lots of attention, which he sees as a good thing.
However, he also lamented the number of opportunists that enter the market despite not having a quality product.
According to him, this may confuse consumers and pose a negative impression of the entire plant-based food industry.
As such, Phuture Foods has been investing heavily in R&D, particularly to get more support and participation from food scientists in different parts of the world like the US, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and more.
Pork-Free Minced Pork
The result of their R&D is Phuture Minced, ‘meat’ that is actually made from plant-based proteins such as non-GMO soy proteins, chickpea proteins, and pea proteins.
Compared to traditional minced pork, Jack claimed that their product will have:
- 66% less calories
- 91% less fat
- Added Vitamin B12 and Iron (which most plant-based foods lack)
- A complete essential amino acid profile
- A good source of fibre
- No cholesterol
- No added hormones
- No antibiotics
Their R&D team is led by a certified food scientist from the United States who has over 45 years of experience in food science and technology, and has developed more than 100 food products that are sold globally.
Curious, we asked Jack if they would try their hand at making other plant-based meats other than pork.
He replied, “Our major focus right now is to make the best plant-based pork products. Our mission is clear, we want people to rethink and reinvent pork especially in the Asia region.”
Phuture Minced being a plant-based pork alternative could be seen as being Muslim-friendly, but many Muslim consumers would probably still prefer it to be halal certified.
After all, we’ve heard of the hoo-ha that happened years ago in Malaysia surrounding Auntie Anne’s ‘Pretzel Dog’ (among other halal controversies from different brands).
So, we asked whether they’ll be applying for halal certification.
Jack didn’t give us a straight answer, but instead said, “We target to achieve every important standard, be it vegan, non-GMO, kosher, HACCP, ISO, etc.”
The product will be launched in Singapore and Hong Kong by Q1 2020, although Jack didn’t say when Malaysian consumers would be seeing Phuture Minced on the market.
As for consumers in other countries, you can probably expect to see Phuture Minced in hotels, restaurants, cafes, and retail markets when it launches.
The Meat Of The Issue
There are those of us who consume meat alternatives for the sake of our own health, or due to religious obligations.
But as Jack delved into the plant-based food industry, he learnt more about how it could impact people and the food industry.
By creating plant-based meat, Phuture Food’s is taking on the existing problems in food sustainability, food safety, and environmental pollution.
Livestock farm waste is 3 times the amount of waste emitted from other industries, according to a report by Wilson Center on the pork industry in China.
This is contaminating ecosystems, soil, and water as well as reducing the amount of arable land.
The ammonia, methane and other gases produced also cause pollution and contribute to the greenhouse effect.
We are facing severe food insecurity right now. 50% of our habitable land is used to create food for us, who only take up 1% of the land. And what’s shocking is that half the population do not have enough food. Our meat industry is using 77% of agricultural land, and only providing 33% of the protein supply. It is super inefficient as compared to plants.
Jack Yap, Phuture Foods
A Lot Of Cooking To Do
In 2 years’ time, Phuture Foods aims to take over a significant market share in the minced pork industry.
“The response of the market will strongly rely on how we can help the Asian culture understand and adopt plant-based meat,” Jack commented. “If we can do it well, we can push the entire plant-based food industry in Asia even forward.”
In the meantime, they’ll be improving their Phuture Minced formula as well as their processing and packaging technologies.
“Phuture vows to continue developing the best plant-based minced pork. We believe developing good quality and healthy food products takes time, and constant improvement is needed as it affects everyone’s lives and safety,” he concluded.