Chinese startups rush to bring alternative protein to people’s plates – ClearTips

recently In the morning in Shenzhen City, Lingyu queued McMoffin to leave. As she waited with the other passengers, the 50-year-old accountant noticed new vegetarian options on the menu and decided to try the fake Spam and Scrambled Egg Burger.

“I’ve never eaten fake meat,” he said of the burger – one of five new breakfasts that McDonald’s introduced in three major Chinese cities last week, featuring a choice of lunch meat produced by Green Monday.

Lingayu, who works in his family business in Shenzhen, is exactly the type of Chinese customer who wants to attract fake meat companies beyond young, fashionable, environmentally conscious urbanites. Her yuan probably means more than meat replacement companies as it advances both their business and climate agendas. Eating less meat is one of the simplest ways to reduce a person’s carbon footprint and help fight climate change.

McDonald’s hopes its pea and soy-based, zero-cholesterol, lunch meat alternative will take out a slice of China’s vast food market. Long-time rival KFC and local competitor Dicos introduced their plant-based products last year. Partnering with fast food chains is a smart move for companies that want to bring alternative proteins to the masses, as these products are often expensive and usually aimed at the wealthy urbanites.

By 2020, alternative protein mornings could be good in China. More than 10 startups raised capital to make plant-based protein for a country with increasing demand for meat. Of these, Starfield, Hey Maet, Vesta and Haofood have been around for a year; Genmet was founded three years ago; And the nine-year-old Hong Kong firm pushing the above-mentioned Green Manday into mainland China. The competition intensified last year when American Beyond Meat and Eat Just entered China.

While some investors worry that the sudden surge of meat substitutes may turn into a bubble, others believe the market is far from saturated.

An investor in a Chinese soy protein startup said that “think about how much meat China eats in a year.” “Even if alternative protein replaces 0.01% of consumption, it can still be a market of tens of billions of dollars.”

In many ways, China is the ideal test for alternative proteins. The country has a long history of fake meat rooted in Buddhist vegetarianism and a middle class that is increasingly health-conscious and ready to experiment. The country also has a hold on the global supply chain for plant-based proteins, which can give domestic startups an edge over foreign rivals.

“I believe, in five years, China will conduct a raid of domestic plant-based protein companies, which may be on a par with industry leaders in Europe and North America,” said Xie Zehan, who has developed soy-based meat. Founded Vesta. Chinese cuisine.

Varieties of meat

O Mate’s Fake Meat Dumplings / Photo: O Mate

Lily Chen, a manager in the Chinese arm of alternative protein investor Lever VC, outlines three categories of meat analogue companies in China: Western giants such as Beyond Meat and Eat Just; Local players; And groups such as Unilever and Nestle that are developing vegetarian meat product lines as a defense strategy. Lever VC invested in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Memphis Meat.

“They all have their own product differentiation, but the industry is still at a very early stage,” Chen said.

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