Letter from Our CEO

A Letter from Our CEO
Dr. Charles Cheng Fang Chin

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Redefining the Future:
Sustained Nutrition for the World Population

"In GoodMorning Global, we have a dream, and that is to end hunger and no one should go to bed hungry"

We are honour to have spoken to Dr. Charles Cheng Fang Chin, Group Chief Executive Officer cum Chief Financial Officer of GoodMorning Global Group Holdings Berhad, about the role of alternative protein in advancing a future with zero hunger and low carbon emissions.

What inspired GoodMorning Global to become a leading company focused on producing and selling plant-based balanced nutrition? How does this relate to climate change? 

The inspiration is that I start with the belief that the business cannot succeed if our environment fails. I believe business has to create values for society, for the country, and for the world community at large. I used to serve the United Nations for more than 10 years. If we look into the data, the global population has reached 8 billion as we speak. And it will reach over 10 billion by 2050 (UN, 2024) in the next 30 years, the same narrative as I shared with TEDx last year (TEDX, 2023), it will require an additional 70% more food production (FAO, 2009). Can you imagine if you look at the data, the food we need for the next 35 to 50 years, it’s a total of the past 10,000 years for the local populations (MIC, 2015), as well as for the world populations. It means that we have to grow more food with less resources. If you look into our present scenario, a few pressing issues are facing us, if these pressing issues are not addressed. I doubt the sustainability of future generations. One of them is the climate change; the second is the food crisis. Did you know that one-third of the greenhouse gases are being emitted by the food production supply chain itself? In which, 50% come from livestock farming (BBC, 2022). It contributes one-sixth of global greenhouse gases. 

If we are to tackle greenhouse emissions, climate change, and the food crisis, one of the quick wins that we have identified so far is cutting short the supply chain. I’m a flexitarian, I practice vegetarianism as well. What we eventually need from animal meat is the protein, among other nutrients. The sources of protein with a PDCAAS (Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score) with a complete amino acid profile, including the nine essential and many others, in fact we can source from plant, like pea protein, and even from microbial protein, like yeast protein. Now, GoodMorning Global is venturing into biotech, working to extract protein from mushrooms, from yeast protein as well. These are all what we call alternative proteins. And by utilizing them, we can cut short the supply chain, thereby reducing the one-sixth of global greenhouse gases and emissions. To tackle the food crisis and climate change, one of the quick fixes is bypassing livestock farming, and that is where WonderMeat (a product of GoodMorning Global) comes into the market – The first dry-mix plant based complete nutrition plant based meat (Malaysia Book of Records, 2023)

If we talk about protein, we look into two aspects. The first is the completeness of the profile, for example. In the literature, there’s one scoring called PDCAAS. If this PDCAAS is near to one, it means that the completeness of the profile is as superior as livestock protein, meaning from animals. Proteins like pea protein and soy protein are near to one. Looking into our present world scenario with rising sea levels and shrinking arable land, it’s clear that we can’t depend on agriculture for alternative protein in the long run. What are the alternative proteins then? Look into the microbiome. For example, microbioprotein from yeast; it comes with completeness near to one and it won’t consume much of our land since it can be cultured within the lab. Apart from that, mushroom protein is one of our options. If we talk about benchmarking for comparison, certainly completeness of the profile as just articulated. Second aspect is the pricing. Despite having a complete protein profile from plant or from alternative sources, the question remains whether the price is as competitive as conventional protein sources. The short answer is – Yes, because we culture the cells (the yeast) in-house through laboratory and we extracted protein from plant. If we look into the raw material itself, in fact, the pricing of a protein, for example, the prices of red meat nowadays per kilogram, the index is about 70. That means our product is almost 30% being more price competitive as compared to the actual meat in the market.

Microbiome need sources of energy as well. One potential source could be from sugar, and the rest could be from the by-products of our extraction. For the process itself, particularly on energy consumption, it depends on what techniques and technologies we apply. We (GoodMorning Global) are also a ESG-compliant company. Our energy sources are derived from renewable energy, such as solar panels. If you talk about whether it’s a circular economy, whether we have an equal system, yes, we have an extraction plant in where we extract active ingredients from medicinal mushrooms, like ganoderma, and many other herbs. From that, we have by-products that could be high in protein. In fact, these could be our sources of nutrition for the yeast, apart from sugar. Now, within our entire ecosystem, we align with the principles of a circular economy by reducing by-products and minimizing waste from production. Additionally, we source our energy from renewable sources, thanks to advancements in technology.

There’s a study (BBC, 2022) in the market now that shows 100 grams of pure protein obtained from livestock (beef) can emit as much as 50 kilograms of CO2. For lamb or mutton, this figure is about 20 kilograms. This emission occurs because when we raise our animals (cows) for a period of three to four years, each cow emits greenhouse gases as it grows. This is how we trace back carbon emissions associated with food production. However, if we look into the pea, if we talk about just 100 grams of pure protein with the similar profile and completeness of protein, it emits only 0.8 kilograms of CO2. Here, we’re talking about almost 60 times the carbon reduction potential if we shift from livestock animal-based protein to plant-based protein, and this is just one example.

We look into two aspects – demand and supply. The demand means there’s a shift in consumer behavior tied to awareness of environmental friendliness, carbon footprint emissions, and sustainability, which is key for future generations. Shifting consumer behavior isn’t just about awareness; it also requires active and targeted policy intervention by our government, applicable to other countries as well. Look at EVs now—why are consumers more environmentally conscious? They’re shifting from petrol cars to EVs to serve the environment. Government intervention, like subsidies, plays a role here. Now, onto the supply side. For the market to adopt plant-based or alternative proteins, we must rationalize our production costs. If the price is too high, marketing becomes doubtful. Additionally, government policies are crucial. For our sustainable industry, tax incentives and grants help reduce production costs. So, supply and demand are keys, and this is where transactions come into play.

For our WonderMeat, we received recognition from the Malaysia Book of Records. It is the first dry mix, complete nutrition plant-based meat in Malaysia. If you look into the plant-based meat market, they are all in frozen form. And if you look into the nutritional effects they offer, they are tailored to mimic specific types of meat. This is the current state of the plant-based market. However, it comes with a few challenges. Firstly, if you develop a frozen product, your market is limited to regions with cold storage infrastructure. For example, if you manufacture frozen plant-based meat in Malaysia, it’s unlikely to serve markets in Europe, Africa, or the United States because that will require the entire cold, logistic chain. Even if you could ship your product to the destinations, the pricing will not be within the affordable range for the mass populations. Secondly, we need to consider sustainability. Freezers require electricity. If you trace back the carbon contributions, frozen plant-based meat has a higher carbon footprint compared to dry mix alternatives. For the WonderMeat, you only need to premix dry mix powder, water, and edible oil (at 3:6:1 ratio). Mix them together, and the binding agent comes into play. It just like a dehydrated pea protein gets hydrated, and thanks to the organic binding agents, all the proteins bind together to form a patty. With a patty, you cook as you wish.

The very first versions of our WonderMeat came with complete nutrition. The sources of the protein came from soy and pea, which we call plant-based protein. Moving into the future, for the relaunch of WonderMeat, we are going to diversify the sources of protein. So, we could extract quality alternative proteins from mushrooms and microbiomes, like, yeast. 

Let’s talk about why GoodMorning Global, as a biotech company, would like to venture into the plant-based market. For many of us, whether in academia, as researchers, or manufacturers, we all start with a guiding principle that is subject being important to all of us. For us, we begin with an end in mind, to sustain the present and future generations of population – addressing climate change and food crises are pre-requisites. To achieve this, we have to embrace plant-based solutions because they are relevant to global populations and are part of a worldwide mega-trend. When we talk about market size, it’s a world market size. Eventually, we have to move towards plant-based options to reduce greenhouse emissions from livestock and eventually bypass livestock farming. That is our end goal. So, what we intend to achieve in between, through biotechnology and with policy support on the supply and demand sides, is to provide affordable, complete plant-based nutrition for people worldwide. We believe that access to complete plant-based nutrition is a basic right for world population, not a privilege. Currently, only a certain group of people having access to complete plant-based products, whether in the form of functional beverages or food. We see that access to such nutrition should not discriminate based on nationality, race, or ethnicity—it should be a basic right for all. This is where biotechnology comes in. With biotechnology and our bioprocesses, we can transform the properties of nature-based raw materials, maximizing their nutritional value through in house novel bioprocesses. Alternative protein is just one aspect of our profile. We are also exploring nature-based Vitamin K2, derived from fermented soybeans, corn, and other sources, to offer to the market as an alternative to the chemically synthetic form currently available. When we discuss the market, it’s a global market because we all require nutrients. The food and beverages we consume are essential sources of nutrients for us. As long as we continue to breathe and humans exist on Earth, the market will persist.