MKT202: On a Wednesday Evening in March, Hundreds of People Showed up at Lau Pa Sat: (Online) Marketing Management Assignment, SUSS, Singapore

University Singapore University of Social Science (SUSS)
Subject MKT202: (Online) Marketing Management

From Lab to Table

On a Wednesday evening in March, hundreds of people showed up at Lau Pa Sat, the food center in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District, to try a new kind of patty. It is made from plants but claims to closely mimic the taste of beef – it even bleeds. At that evening’s event, San Francisco’s Impossible Foods launched its latest product in Singapore. In the two months since the plant-based “meat” patty has become available at more than 45 establishments throughout the city.


Social media is abuzz with posts decreeing that it was hard to tell the difference between the fake meat patty and the real thing. The Impossible 2.0 “beef” tastes and smells just like real beef, and its manufacturer says eating it instead of regular beef can save the planet because the production of beef, particularly cattle farming, emits more greenhouse gases and uses more water than plant-based alternatives and takes up vast tracts of land that ought to be returned to the wild.

Impossible Foods is not the only player competing for a slice of the US$1.5 trillion ($2.04 trillion) animal-based protein industry. Its top competitor is Beyond Meat, founded by vegan Ethan Brown in Los Angeles. The company launched its product in Singapore last October. And, parallel to this plant-based meat industry is a cultured meat one — where genuine meat is grown in labs using stem cells from animals. This industry is still in the early stage, but researchers are looking at growing “chicken”, “fish” and “beef” at a price comparable with their farmed equivalents in the near future.

Humans, it seems, no longer have to rely on farmed meats. And that is good news for a world that international agencies think is bursting at its seams. The global population is set to hit 10 billion by 2050, at which point the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says meat consumption will increase by 73%. That demand cannot be met based on current livestock production systems because the industry already uses 70% of global agricultural land.

Yet, how plausible is it that consumers the world over will give up actual meat for engineered proteins? Is the industry as sustainable as it claims to be? What about food safety?

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Rising to the bait

It seems to be going well for Impossible Foods at least, which has grown its restaurant partners globally by six-fold over the past year. In Singapore, Three Buns Quayside, one of the first restaurants to add Impossible Foods products to its menu in the form of two burgers, says both have been top sellers. “Reception has been really good. People are buying it because they are intrigued and want to try and see if they can tell the difference,” says executive chef Adam Penney. “Even after the hype has died down, people will still go for it.” Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay and CUT by Wolfgang Puck are also reporting positive responses from diners regarding the plant-based patties and say they may add more of such options to their menus.

On the lab-grown meat front, also known as cultured meat or clean meat, there are no consumer studies here yet. But a 2016 survey in the US of 673 respondents found that 65% definitely or likely to try it. Of those, a third said they would consume the meat regularly, though only about 15% would pay more for such meat compared with conventional meat.

Still, for fake meat and cultured meat to replace the animal protein consumers are used to is a stretch, says Paul Teng, a professor at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). “People are used to eating animal protein and even though plant-based protein has become so much more attractive, to actually compete as a food preference with animal meat, that’s going to require a generational change, and that takes roughly 30 years.”

Question 1

(a) Describe the needs, wants, and demands of consumers who would eat plant-based meats such as Impossible meats or Beyond Burger at restaurants like Bread Street Kitchen and Three Buns Quayside.

(b) Evaluate three (3) macroenvironment forces and explain, with supporting information, one (1) trend each that will impact the growth and success of Impossible Meats and Beyond Burger.

(Note: It is necessary to conduct secondary research and support your discussions with evidence.)

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