Hong Kong-based Vitasoy is best known for its soya bean drinks and products, and has secured a following in Australia for its newer plant-based barista range comprising soy, oat and almond milks – but is hoping that the success of the latter can be replicated in Singapore as well.
“Vitasoy has always been a plant-based company throughout our 80-year history, and has now spun off beyond our best-known soy to more types of plant milks such as oat and almond, and are hoping to increase consumer awareness about these here in Singapore,” Vitasoy International Brand Manager Png Hui Leng told FoodNavigator-Asia at the recent Specialty and Fine Foods Asia show in Singapore.
“This is particularly so for our Café Barista series, which was specially formulated in Australia so be used for frothing for coffee and has gained high popularity there with a lot of feedback saying it tastes just like dairy milk.
“Awareness of this is still not as high in Singapore as it is there, and we are hoping to market this more strongly as we know we have a good product with strong potential – it is creamier than many other plant-based alternatives on the market, its taste is close to dairy, it has a full-bodied mouthfeel, it is halal-certified.
“Importantly it is already very big in Australia, a country where milk is so popular, demonstrating just how high quality it is – so we are confident it can do well here as well and we definitely want to export more of this to Singapore and more ASEAN countries too.”
The firm is also hoping that cafes and other foodservice outlets in Singapore will be interested in using Café Barista in their products, as this would be an excellent way to bring the range even more strongly into consumers’ radars.
“We are working with Starbucks on their plant-based beverages, and it is through collaborations like these that we hope more consumers will become aware of Vitasoy as a good plant-based accompaniment to their coffees and other drinks,” said Png.
Consumption trends in Singapore
Plant-based food and beverage consumption is on the rise in Singapore, primarily for health reasons – but coffee consumption is not going anywhere, and a majority of younger consumers are still not fond of black coffee.
“Plant-based is definitely up-and-coming here, both in terms of plant-based meats, milks, and other products,’ she said.
“The movement is on the rise as it is being driven by the younger generation – but at the same time it is also younger consumers that want to have milk and/or cream in their coffee, so plant-based milks are a very good option here.
“At the same time, consumers that have problems with dairy consumption such as those who are lactose intolerant now have the option to have their coffee with that creamy mouthfeel they may have been missing, as a result of these plant-based milks.”
Blessing or curse?
Vitasoy was established back in 1940, giving it a total history of 82 years in total, and for the majority of that time it has been associated with soya bean milks – which according to Png, can be both good and bad.
“Our long history in soy can really be considered either a plus or a minus – the plus is that we are considered a true expert in soy which is what we do, and that is true, but the minus is that consumers think that we only make soy products so changing this mindset is challenging,” she said.
“In a time where plant-based is such a big trend and we are in fact a plant-based company, this is the reason we are putting ever more effort than before into stressing the marketing angle that we are not just a soy firm, but a plant-based firm through-and-through.”