Market & Trends

China: Consumer Awareness Reaches 90% for Plant-Based Protein

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Plant-based proteins are gaining increasing levels of acceptance in China according to research by The NPD Group. Awareness of plant-based protein has reached 90% among the general public, with the retention rate for plant-based proteins rising 15% in Q4 of last year.   

“There is no doubt that consumers in China view plant-based proteins as healthier alternatives to traditional meat protein”

According to the China Plant-based Protein Topical Report from The NPD Group, plant-based foods are becoming more available and appealing as Chinese consumers are generally seeking more protein in their diets. 

The key findings from the report are:

  • Consumer awareness of plant-based has reached 90%
  • The retention rate for plant-based proteins is on the rise, up from 53% in October 2020, to 68% in January 2021.
  • 57% of Chinese consumers get plant-based protein information from domestic news sources, and 48% learned about plant-based protein from social media
  • With over 70%, independent restaurants represent the highest share of plant-based protein growth in China. Plant-based proteins served in FSR reached 52%, followed by 31% in QSR, and 12% in Leisure.
  • The trial rate of restaurant dishes and plant-based snacks was the highest at 60%.
  • 41% of consumers agreed that ads focusing on health and wellness was a driving factor in their acceptance of plant-based protein. 
Hero Protein packaging
©Hero Protein

Although plant-based protein currently occupies a small share compared to animal meat proteins in China, the study reveals how plant-based is a rising trend in China, a country with over 400 million millennials – the demographic with the most active interest in plant-based foods. Homegrown startups like YouKuai – makers of Zrou, as well as Green Monday and HERO Protein are leading the market. However, they face competition from global brands, like Beyond Meat and The Vegetarian Butcher, which are looking for footholds in the market. 

“There is no doubt that consumers in China view plant-based proteins as healthier alternatives to traditional meat protein,” stated Gimantha Jayasinghe, Senior Vice President of APAC Foodservice at The NPD Group. “Though these products have a long way to go in terms of share against their meat counterparts, they are gaining acceptance and retention among consumers. This presents tremendous opportunities for manufacturers as consumers continue to look for healthy alternatives to meat.”

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