Zhenmeat founder Vince Lu told CNBC in an interview this week that the Beijing-based startup is “talking aggressively” with investors from Europe, China and the United States in hopes to raise up to US$ 2 million to increase the scale of production of its plant-based mincemeat made from pea protein.
This follows a recent announcement from heavyweights Impossible Foods, which is also attempting to enter the Chinese market, whilst Beyond Meat aims to start producing its plant-based alternatives in China by the end of 2020. According to recent OECD data, China is behind other countries in the rise of plant-based food over meat. China consumes 28 per cent of the world’s meat—twice as much as the United States. However, this is rapidly changing largely as a result of a recent outbreak of African swine fever that has swept China and other parts of Asia, resulting in a massive culling program that has forced the price of pork up by 70%.
Chinese consumers are turning to plant-based meat alternatives, which Vince Lu estimates can take over as much as 10% of the real meat consumption in the country within the near future. Other majors factor influencing the change from meat are increasing awareness of health issues including obesity, and that the Chinese are becoming more eco-conscious. According to The Good Food Institute, the plant-based meat alternatives industry in China was worth about 6.1 billion yuan ($883.8 million) in 2018, reflecting 14.2 per cent year-on-year growth.
Zhenmeats is launching into the market hot on the tail of news from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat Inc, who have begun marketing their ‘pork’ to the Chinese but Mr Lu doesn’t appear phased about this in the interview, commenting that as Zhenmeats is Chinese they will have the upper hand in satisfying the tastes of Chinese consumers, he also stated that he is really excited about western companies opening the market as they have the same goal to educate people and influence change.