Plant-based meat producers, including US-based Beyond Meat, are entering the competitive China market. Their success depends on whether their products can convince the China consumers, says Shanghai-based business analyst Ben Cavender at Reuters.
Beijing-based startup Zhenmeat, whose products include plant-based meatballs, beef patty, steak, pork loin, crayfish and dumplings, is one of many small Chinese companies entering the market. Its “meatballs” are now available on a trial basis at a Beijing store of Chinese hot-pot chain Hope Tree.
“Now after COVID-19 consumers are more concerned about health and restaurant brands are responding to this,” Zhenmeat founder and CEO Vince Lu told Reuters in an interview, adding that sales were “up considerably” since June.
Many curious customers at the Beijing Hope Tree restaurant said the meatballs – made from a base of pea and soy protein – tasted like tofu.
“Actually you can tell that it isn’t meat but the feel of it in your mouth is very similar to beef. And I guess that plant-based meat is a little healthier than beef,” said Audrey Jiang, 30.
China Market Research Group Director Ben Cavender said the key to the future of the plant-based meat market was the taste.
“When we interview consumers the vast majority say they’re open to trying these products once,” he said.
“But the big question is how do they like it? Do they see how they can fit it into their diet on daily basis, whether that’s cooking at home or at restaurants? But if they do like it they’ll keep buying.”
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