On Saturday, April 27th, Shanghai’s first Plant-Based Meat Festival was held as a way to introduce the country’s largest plant-based meat manufacturers to a mainstream audience. The one-day event was held in central Jing’an area, a popular location for food markets and festivals, such as the Farmer’s Market and the 10-day Christmas Market.
The name of the festival -“MeatFest” – piqued the interest of several online news publications including Xinhua News and the South China Morning Post, as well as garnered international attention.
The festival comes at the height of plant-based meat alternatives being introduced into the mainstream market, such as the American plant-based meat company “Beyond Meat”, which recently went public.
Some of the exporters at the festival, including Qishan (Whole Perfect Food) and HongChang (VegeFarm), already have an international presence. The profile of the total eight manufacturers at the festival ranged from those with a multimillion-dollar turnover per year to smaller family businesses. The festival also featured plant-based yogurt from China’s leading bottled water supplier, Nongfu Spring, which distributed over 1,000 free samples to raise awareness about their dairy-free product.
The event was organized by the local community platform, Vegans of Shanghai (interview), which is run by the impact start-up enterprise, Plant-Based Consulting. The community platform has been in existence since 2016, with the main goal of spreading information about the relationship between diet and carbon emissions.
According to Vegans of Shanghai’s founder, Eve Samyuktha, the event had a total carbon footprint savings of 18 – 33,000 kg, calculated based on a reference study done by American and European environmental organizations, that 1 kg of beef emits between 16kg to 30kg of CO2.
Co-organizers of the festival included Grezen Initiatives (G.I.), a Shanghai-based social environmental protection enterprise that supports alternatives to meat for reducing food-related carbon emissions.
The festival also collaborated with Remenmeishi (part of Shanghai Toutiao), a social media official account that blogs, promotes and advertises meat heavy cuisines from all over Shanghai. The platform posted a promotional article for MeatFest that in matter of hours received over 10,000 views. Remenmeishi were also key partners that brought in over 2,000 visitors to the venue, bringing the total of the number of foodies, food critics and casual footfall throughout the day to over 4,000.
The festival was broadcasted the same day on Kankan News, a subsidiary of Shanghai TV group; it highlighted the irony of the festival’s name – MeatFest, despite being 100% plant-based. Visitors gave encouraging feedback when interviewed by this TV station, and on a short survey that the organizers collected. Visitors reacted positively to these domestically available brands and many expressed that they are likely to buy these products in the future.
The next project for Vegans of Shanghai will be getting the industry leaders of the food and beverage industry in China, as well as international and domestic environmental experts in a forum to highlight the link between consumer food habits and climate change.