Chinese consumers, who are responsible for 28% of the world’s meat consumption, present a key opportunity as faux meat makers eye up the huge market.

US producer Impossible Foods began serving its meat-alternative beef burgers in Asian restaurants two years ago. But since October 20, they have been available in 200 supermarkets across Hong Kong and Singapore, the first time they have gone on sale in stores outside the US. 

The trend towards eating at home and increasing consumer interest in leading a healthy lifestyle, both accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, have sharpened the appetite for growing the market.

Right now, Impossible Foods’ product, which sells for almost US$12 per patty in Hong Kong, may prove too pricey for many shoppers, however.

But the supermarket move is widely seen as a precursor to introducing plant-based meat to mainland China, reports Nikkei Asia.

“China could have an entirely domestic ‘meat’ supply, which would be great for the food supply, better from a public health standpoint and vastly reduce the environmental footprint,” Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told a news conference.

He added that the company, which is backed by the private investment arm of Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, hopes to build a complete supply chain for its product in China.

Meanwhile, Impossible’s rival, Beyond Meat, is also eyeing the market. It said in the summer that it planned to team with Alibaba’s Freshippo supermarket chain to bring its meat substitute product to the Chinese consumer, and it is building a processing plant near Shanghai, Nikkei Asia reports.

There are also rival companies already on the scene – Green Monday Holdings is a Hong Kong-based plant-based meat producer, which plans stores in Singapore and mainland China. It produces a pork substitute, the most popular meat eaten in mainland China, while Impossible and Beyond Meat offer mock beef products.

Euromonitor International forecasts 11.6% growth in the substitute meat market in Asia-Pacific this year, making it worth $17.1 billion. Even prior to the pandemic, which has increased consumers’ concerns about healthy eating, the market was worth over $15 billion in 2019, up 4.75% on a year earlier.

Sourced from Nikkei Asia