Michal Klar, Founder of Better Bite Ventures and Future Food Now Newsletter

The Plantbased Business Hour

​​How Is China, and Asia as a whole, impacting the Global Food Systems Transformation? Michal Klar of Better Bite Ventures and the Founder of the Future Food Now Newsletter joins me on The Plantbased Business Hour to discuss innovation, jobs, national security and the future of protein.

Specifically, we discuss

  1. What is driving Asia’s Plant-based Innovation (plant-based foods, fermented proteins and cultivated meat) growth?
  2. How Asia views China’s focus on Plant-based Innovation.
  3. What will encourage change in Asia’s eating habits as meat eating increases?
  4. Funding, innovation and regulation approval in Singapore.


Below is a short highlight clip and transcript from our long-form conversation.

Elysabeth: As I understand the numbers, 65% of the U.S., and I also believe the world-but I think at least I’ll go for the U.S., 65% of the U.S. is lactose intolerant. That’s going to be much higher among African Americans and almost 99% in Asian Americans for lactose intolerance. So when Coca-Cola- the ultimate cool factor, Coca-Cola goes to Asia bringing milk and bringing sickness and disease, I am amazed to hear that Asians are adopting milk. Help me understand this, because it makes them ill. Do I have that right?

Michal Klar: It’s interesting. There’s a high percentage of lactose intolerance for sure throughout Asia. I’m trying to unpack it myself as well and understand sort of the perception out there. I would say for China, for example, where I spoke with some people recently, they estimate that only half of people are even aware of their lactose intolerance, so half wouldn’t be aware. Then the half that is aware isn’t considering it a big deal so they would occasionally consume dairy products even for pure pleasure and not even necessarily for nutrition, and just accept the fact that it will give them a little bit of an achy stomach or a reaction that’s not a huge reaction in their mind. So that’s kind of one side of it.

Another side of it is that milk is similar to how it is in the West. Last year it was presented as a very nutritious food and this perception was built that this is the best way to sort of supplement your protein and calcium. The same perception you can see in the West you can also see among many Chinese and Asian consumers and the consumption is growing among the region.

Elysabeth: So I don’t know the Asian legal landscape but here in the U.S. the campaign “Milk Does A Body Good”- I believe it was the USDA, might have been the FDA but I believe it was the USDA, that was sued for that commercial and they had to take it down because indeed milk does not do a body good and they’re encouraging people to eat that which makes them sick.

Will the legal system catch up or what kind of..what’s the cultural zeitgeist for alternative facts?

Michal Klar: It’s definitiatively government driven in many places, so you would have programs that are I guess somewhat similar to the ones in the U.S. where milk is served in schools as extra nutrition. It’s not necessarily advertised the way we know it from the West like “Got Milk?” campaigns specifically and the checkoff programs and so on. I think it’s probably hard to see anybody challenging it anytime soon so that wouldn’t happen.

I’d rather personally believe in the solution being driven by technology and by startups and innovators that are coming up with new solutions. That’s what we try to do and the people we try to support, as well, when we invest, and find more viable alternatives to produce essentially equally nutritious products that can still be served in the same environments, and people can still enjoy it and get all the nutrition from it, just not derived from animals.

New episodes are out every week. Never miss the Plantbased Business Hour or Minute. Subscribe on iTunes and Youtube, and sign up for the newsletter. Follow Elysabeth on Linkedin. For information on Plant Powered Consulting, click here.

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