China consumes more than a quarter of all meat in the world, including about half of all pork production. Overall, meat consumption for the average person in the country has increased 3.7 times since the 1980s. Even though people in China now eat more meat than ever before, the country also has a long history of vegetarian cuisines, with many meat substitutes derived from soy.
Now, because Chinese consumers pay more attention to personal health and the environment, plant-based “meats” are seeing growing popularity, with the Chinese market expected to reach USD 11.9 billion in value by 2023.
Notable US-based startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible foods have been making waves in the plant-based protein arena for their meat substitutes that can pass for the real thing. They’ve already targeted the Chinese market, with Beyond Meat’s products now in the country, although Impossible Foods has yet to appear on menus or store shelves due to China’s regulatory stance on genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients.
Meanwhile, some domestic competitors are looking to carve a piece out of the Chinese market for themselves:
Zhenmeat is looking to appeal to local consumer tastes with their pea protein-based product, which is used to make imitation beef, pork, and even crayfish. The company has already completed a seed round with USD 140,000 from venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures, and is eyeing a Series A funding round.
Read more: China’s answer to Beyond Meat predilects local cuisine: Inside China’s Startups
Starfield, whose products have already found their way to consumers, has formed numerous restaurant and merchant partnerships, as well as ties for product research and development. They’ve already secured funds worth tens of millions of yuan, and are backed by one of Beyond Meat’s early investors.
OmniFoods has a research and development team based in Canada. The company has already seen its OmniPork reach Hong Kong and parts of Southeast Asia. OmniPork has also found its way onto an airline menu, sating appetites of Cathay Pacific’s passengers, although the product has yet to reach mainland China.
Whole Perfect Food has been around since the 1990s and already has an extensive product line. It holds numerous patents as well. With an increasing number of artificial meat competitors, the company aims to expand its global presence as well as fend off newcomers to the scene.
To learn more, check out our video about these developers of artificial meat:
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