SINGAPORE (4 August 2023) – Agrocorp International (Agrocorp) is proud to launch HerbY-Cheese: Singapore’s first plant-based, nut-free cheese range, which will be sold under its consumer brand, HerbYvore. Agrocorp is a homegrown agri-commodity company specialising in the processing and sale of staple food products such as wheat, pulses, and rice to the leading food manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions. In recent years, the company has ventured downstream with the establishment of a plant protein extraction facility in Canada, developing R&D capabilities, and launching its plant-based food brand, HerbYvore.
In May 2022, Agrocorp signed a research partnership agreement with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to enable collaborative research in sustainable plant protein extraction. This collaboration allows Agrocorp’s food scientists to work on product development in SIT’s food labs and get the relevant support to manufacture promising prototypes at pilot scale at the FoodPlant, a pilot production plant that was jointly established by SIT, Enterprise Singapore and JTC. The end-to-end innovation support rendered by this private-public research partnership has enabled the successful development and commercialisation of HerbY-Cheese, which includes dairy-free alternatives to cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan.
“We are excited to launch Singapore’s first plant-based, nut-free cheese that is sustainably nutritious and are thankful for the roles that SIT and Enterprise Singapore have played to support us on this journey. With dairy being one of the top three food groups for carbon emissions, having a vegan cheese range that melts and tastes like dairy cheese is definitely one of the needs of the hour. By using pea protein manufactured through our upstream operations, we are also able to adopt a farm-to-fork supply chain with the HerbY-Cheese range,” said Vishal Vijay, Director of Strategic Investments, Agrocorp International.
“We are delighted to partner with Agrocorp to develop a new range of plant-based cheese which is derived from sustainable ingredients. SIT’s expertise in food technology, flavour science, nutrition and scale-up has helped Agrocorp achieve this milestone. This is a testament to SIT’s commitment to driving translational research that can create impactful business outcomes for companies,” said Associate Professor Susanna Leong, Vice President (Applied Research), SIT.
“We are pleased to have supported Agrocorp on its innovation journey. Agrocorp’s efforts to innovate and create new sustainable products, is in line with our Trade 2030 strategy to grow and diversify the activities of trading companies in Singapore, thus strengthening our competitiveness as a global trade hub. As a trusted food and nutrition hub, Singapore is an ideal location to launch HerbY-Cheese to meet the evolving needs of global consumers.” said Amreeta Eng, Executive Director for Trade, Enterprise Singapore.
In recent years, more plant-based food products have been launched in the market, both locally and around the world, with the proliferation of plant-based patties, nuggets, gyozas, and more. For plant-based food products to be accepted by end consumers, taste, health benefits, affordability and accessibility are factors that affect adoption. Further, according to a YouGov survey conducted in Singapore in 2020, about 50% of consumers who chose a plant-based diet listed health as the major reason for choosing plant-based products. This means that consumers may favour products that are minimally processed, contain fewer ingredients, and contain nutrients.
“A balanced diet incorporates foods from diverse sources and HerbY-Cheese stands out by using pea protein, instead of the more commonly used soy base. This also opens up the category of plant-based cheeses to those who are allergic to soy, supporting their protein needs. In addition, the protein content of HerbY-Cheese is of note as most vegan plant-based cheeses available commercially contain little to no protein. Protein is an important component of our diet as it helps to promote satiety, supports muscle growth and repair, and contributes to the production of hormones and enzymes,” added Charlotte Mei, an accredited nutritionist and sustainability advocate.
Local food service establishments have started exploring more comprehensive plant-based menus as the number of flexitarians and vegans continues to grow. For some, the journey has just started to yield positive results, while others have only just started to consider plant-based options in their menus, but not many are familiar with using plant-based cheeses.”
HerbY-Cheese range comprises HerbY-Cheese Mozarella, HerbY-Cheese Cheddar and HerbY-Cheese Just Like Parme (rendition of parmesan cheese) and will include more products in its pipeline that will further serve the needs of this growing plant-based dairy category. Given the high incidence of lactose intolerance, rising health concerns associated with dairy, and increased awareness of food’s impact on carbon emissions, this range could serve many different consumer groups.
HerbY-Cheese by HerbYvore is available at the HerbYvore e-store, The Green Collective (physical and e-store), Green Butchery’s e-store, and Hyfresh supermarkets. The cheeses are also being used at Cultivate Café, a local establishment that is known for its wholesome, plant-based menu offerings. HerbY-Cheese will be distributed by local food distributor, Food Fresh, and this partnership will support the penetration of HerbY-Cheese in the local food service, hotel, and retail sectors.