Et is a return of a special kind: The German founder Timo Recker, who emigrated to Singapore, is bringing his artificial meat brand Tindle to his home country. After several rounds of financing with well-known financiers for his company Next Gen Foods, the substitute meat made from soy will initially be offered in a number of restaurants in six major German cities. Recker and his partners approached the market entry in a similar way, first in the Southeast Asian metropolis and later in Asia and America. From the spring of 2023, the artificial meat is to be offered in retail outlets.
Chicken meat is the most popular animal protein in Germany. In 2021, every German citizen consumed 15.6 kilograms of chicken. According to a study by Proveg analysts, 51 percent of Germans reduced their meat consumption in the past year. A tenth of Germans no longer eat meat at all. Against this background, Recker is hoping for a huge market that he can penetrate. He had previously placed his Tindle brand in the UK and the Netherlands. The artificial meat is now available in more than 500 restaurants on four continents.
In the international race to develop artificial meat, Recker chose Singapore as its headquarters. The rich state wants to secure a leading position at least in the market of 3.4 billion Asians. The state is turning into a test laboratory: by 2030, the island, covering an area the size of Hamburg, wants to produce 30 percent of its food from its own production. So Singapore is engaged in fish farming, plant-based meat and laboratory meat development.
The American agro giant Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has opened a large laboratory for plant-based foods for Asia here. In 2020, Singapore became the first country in the world to allow San Francisco-based Eat Just to grow and sell chicken breast from cells in the lab. Next year, the Americans want to open their first factory in Singapore for around 61 million Singapore dollars (41.76 million euros). Here, around 50 scientists and engineers are to grow up to 45,000 kilograms of chicken meat from cell cultures in a 6,000 liter “bioreactor”. Rearing and slaughtering of the animals are eliminated.
While Singapore advances, Peter Wesjohann, CEO of the largest German poultry farmer PHW Group with his Wiesenhof brand, complains that Europe is falling behind. “I’m afraid that the EU will be at the bottom again,” he says in an interview with the FAZ with a view to approvals. “I hope that the opportunity will still be recognized and that politicians will put pressure on it.”
Recker has been putting pressure on for a long time – but in Asia. “It was a long road,” he says in an interview. After studying in London, he returned to Wetschen near Vechta, where his father runs a factory for schnitzel production, Recker Convenience. “We had to open up new sales fields,” says the junior. Plant-based meat was just a vision. “But I suspected that we could solve a lot of problems with it.” Father and son founded their first brand, Likemeat.
After their sale, Recker moved to Singapore. “I would choose the location again and again. The business development helps us, the networks are right.” This is also due to the financial prerequisites: The investors in Next Gen Foods include the ex-Beatle Paul McCartney with his MPL Ventures as well as the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Agency EDB and Singapore’s state investment company Temasek.