On 29 August 2022, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), in collaboration with Tastebud Lab, Bio Buddy, and Future Food Network, hosted a webinar focusing on the important roles of alternative proteins in the transformation of the food system. Moderated by Tastebud Lab CEO and Co-founder Mr. Santi Abakaz, the event brought together eminent experts with international experience to share and discuss the development of a regional collaborative platform on sustainable alternative proteins. Invited speakers include 1) Dr. Yuki Hanyu, CEO of Integriculture Inc., Japan; 2) Mr. Wiphu Loetsuraphibun, Co-founder of Meat Avatar; and 3) Assist. Prof. Dr. Wisuwat Songnuan, Chief Strategist & Co-founder of Advanced Greenfarm.

The webinar consisted of breakout sessions covering three different research areas: plant-based proteins, fermentation & cultured meat and new sources (e.g., mushrooms-based, fungi, water plants, and algae). The presentations and discussion centered around regional sustainable alternative proteins value chain design by addressing different sources of alternative proteins such as cultured meat, plant-based meat and Wolffia protein and how these alternative proteins play significant roles in transforming the food system toward greater sustainability and balance in economic, social, and environmental dimensions.

During the workshop, the panelists also stressed the challenges and opportunities for Thailand and ASEAN countries regarding the development of regional sustainable alternative proteins value chain (upstream-midstream-downstream-consumption) including R&D investment in product improvement and human resources. Several initiatives were suggested and discussed such as the development of infrastructure, talent, and workforce due to insufficient manpower, research facilities and gaining access to R&D to reduce cost disadvantages while increasing the capability to produce a wide range of innovative products with competitive prices that meet the standards and consumer trends. Furthermore, it was suggested that the government should oversee funding for research and strengthen collaborative networks (consortiums) between responsible bodies such as public and private sectors within the value chain, especially SMEs/startups at both national, regional, and international levels. It would also help to update the regulatory framework to accelerate business operation and establish food standards or certification programs as well as the FDA approval process to support innovative products including building trust among local consumers by employing a demand-driven approach that will result in an increase in local consumption. These are among common recommendations from three research areas for short-term and long-term guidelines for the development and cooperation in supporting alternative proteins.

Attended by 218 participants in total, this webinar is part of the seminar series of Asia and the Pacific Regional Dialogue on Science and Technology for a Sustainable Food System. Additionally, it is one of the highlights of APEC 2022 hosted by Thailand. Results and recommendations presented in this webinar will be reported at the APEC Tech to Biz event scheduled for 10-12 October 2022 and the meeting of the APEC Policy Partnership for Science, Technology, and Innovation (PPSTI).

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