A report by Asymmetrics Research has predicted rapid growth for the alt-protein market in China. The growth will be driven by flexitarianism, which is on the rise in the country due to concerns about health, safety, and sustainability.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of the alt-protein industry in China, bringing to light some of the food safety issues surrounding animal agriculture. Many consumers are looking for alternatives, and that means a huge opportunity for businesses.
According to the report, B2B collaborations could prove particularly successful. This has already been demonstrated by the partnership of Western companies such as Beyond Meat with restaurant chains in China.
It also suggests that large Chinese corporations that don’t currently offer plant-based products could benefit from branching out — some, like Nongfu Spring, are already doing so.
The success of companies already in the Chinese alt-protein sector seems to support the report’s findings. Following its pre-seed funding round, the CEO of Shanghai-based alt-meat company HERO Protein described plant-based meat as “a rising and unstoppable trend in China“. Another Chinese alt-meat company, Hey Maet, has already completed three funding rounds since its launch at the beginning of 2020, raising tens of millions of yuan.
In November, Beyond Meat launched a product called Beyond Pork, specifically tailored to the Chinese market. Meanwhile, Chinese company Omnipork has gone from strength to strength, selling out in Shanghai and launching all across China last August.
But there are still challenges for the industry. Currently, many Chinese consumers can’t afford alt-protein products, which tend to be comparatively expensive. And among many groups, there isn’t yet widespread awareness of their benefits. The report says that increasing awareness, perhaps by partnering with influencers, will be the key to success.