March 9, 2023
From Vegconomist

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has predicted that the Philippines will import more legumes in the coming years, as diets in the country become increasingly plant-based.

In a report, the USDA said the Philippines was expected to increase its imports of leguminous vegetables by 5-7% per year for the next five years. It added that legume imports have already risen by 48% in the past five years, reaching a value of $88 million in 2022. Mung beans are by far the most significant type, accounting for 90% of the 111,000 MT of pulses brought in.

A growing trend towards plant-based foods has been credited for the rise in legume imports, along with the increasing cost of animal protein and a greater reliance on imported food. The USDA notes that the Philippines currently only produces enough legumes to meet 27% of its requirements.

with foods plant-based sausages on a plate
© WTH Foods

Plant-based in the Philippines

While the plant-based market in the Philippines is still small, it is growing considerably. In January, Manila-based food tech startup WTH Foods launched a frozen alt meat line called Umani, made from microalgae, soy, and wheat proteins.

In 2021, Filipino company Monde Nissin Corp — which owns UK-based alt meat brands Quorn and Cauldron Foods — completed the Philippines’ largest ever IPO. Even Burger King now offers a plant-based Whopper in the country.

“What we are offering our customers is an option,” Burger King’s Philippines marketing director, Allan Tan, told the Manila Bulletin. “Filipinos are such huge meat-eaters, and the insight for this local roll-out is to provide them with an affordable alternative.”