After tuna and corned beef, Century enters plant-based ‘meat’ market

ONE of the country’s biggest food companies, Century Pacific Food, Inc. (CNPF), is throwing its dice in the plant-based food category with unMEAT. The company is looking to enter not just the Philippine market for meatless “meat” but also plans to expand abroad.

The company behind tuna brands such as Century and 555 Tuna and canned meats Argentina, Wow!, and Swift Premium has developed a line of nuggets, sausages, patties, and giniling (ground “meat”) that is 100% plant-based: made without dairy or eggs, and containing neither cholesterol nor trans-fat. Century Pacific Food, Inc. General Manager Nikki Dizon said during an online press launch late last month that there are less than 10 ingredients in unMEAT, including soy protein, oils, salt, onions, soy sauce, and vinegar — things that are easy to pronounce and can be found in people’s pantries.

According to a release, unMEAT was first introduced through Shakey’s Pizza’s newest offering, the Goood Burger. BusinessWorld got to try the burger and found it a little bit smoky-sweet, and with a firmer texture than a normal beef burger. Otherwise, if one did not know what was, they would likely conclude that it was a normal burger.

“One of the biggest concerns about plant-based foods is that they are not delicious or as pleasing to the palate as real meat,” Ms. Dizon was quoted as saying in the statement. “But our Nutrition Science team took that as a challenge, and completely delivered by coming up with a meat alternative that unbelievably and undeniably looks, feels, and tastes like meat. Moreover, they made unMEAT using simple ingredients and extracted the nutrients from real food rather than synthetic compounds so it’s healthier and more affordable.”

The brands in Century Pacific’s portfolio are among the nation’s most familiar, and one might wonder why they would enter new, meatless territory. “It’s in our mission and vision to really nourish and delight. When we say nourish and delight, we want to be inclusive in what markets we cover, and that includes the plant-based market. More and more, we have friends and family who are going into plant-based diets. We want to be able to capture that — it’s not just about the common meats you see now,” said Ms. Dizon.

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They also unveiled plans to roll out unMEAT in as many as 80 countries. Gregory Banzon, Executive Vice-President and COO of Century Pacific said that they’re undergoing regulatory processes in those countries, which Ms. Dizon says includes the US, the UK, China, Singapore, and the Middle East. Mr. Banzon, meanwhile, gave a timeline for this rollout in about two quarters, or about six months. “We really want to bring the goodness of unMEAT to as many [people] as possible,” said Ms. Dizon.

“I personally believe that plant-based food will move from a niche item into the mainstream, and will be a high-growth category,” said Chris Po, Executive Chairman of Century Pacific.

UnMEAT is already available in some supermarkets, and can also be found on online shopping platforms like Lazada. At Lazada’s Swift official store, unMeat products cost between P120-P135 for 200-226 gm packs. — Joseph L. Garcia

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