China and the Plant Based Meat Saga

A few weeks back we brought you a short story on China and the Meatless Meat Revolution where we outlined the entry of some of the international big players, such as Impossible Foods along with existing local, Honk Kong based Green Monday’s Omnipork.


We also quickly mentioned SUNFED- a NZ faux chicken producer and a very recent Beijing start up- also focused on faux fowl; Zhen Meat.

The interesting thing back then, to us anyway, was the way most of these brands were using fast food tie ups as gateways. Although, to be fair Omnipork had been available via on line E-com stores for 2 or 3 years. A little more recently however [and our original story was only dated 23rd June this year] Beyond Meat announced a tie up with Alibaba- not via Tmall etc where many brands are already omnipresent, but via their Fresh Hippo or Hema Stores.

Initially this just reaches customers via 50 Shanghai based stores but by end of third quarter this will be extended to anther 50 based in Beijing and Hangzhou. Customers can find this in the frozen goods section or use the Hema mobile app or home delivery. If you are keen to know more, you can read this fuller article on Caixin.

As an aside. some observers in China have doubted if, after initial curiosity in the product has peaked, Chinese consumers can be swayed away from their beloved pork. We feel this is fair comment; to wit even during the African Swine Flue when pork prices rocketed and beef was the meaty darling it didn’t take too long before buyers returned to pork. Despite the higher than usual price. So price is probably not going to be a selling point. In fact, even now imitation meat is on a par with the “real thing” price wise.

However, this sort of ignores what we and many other professional marketers have been banging away at for the past couple of decades: CHINA IS NOT ONE MEGA MARKET. So the secret to success here is going to be segmentation. Niches such as vegetarians, health fanatics or religious groups, such as Islam, Bahia and Buddhism whose followers shun animal products.

Moving on

So far we have been looking at “traditional” ways to distribute the product. [ Interesting how quickly we now consider E-com traditional~] This article from China daily [who also provide the image] introduces what maybe the future.
Not just for the imitation beef / meat market, but for the way we order foods generally.
We are talking about 3D printing.

The “finished product’ looks halfway appetising in the leader image, but I am not sure if the hands and nails of the “chef” in later images during the preparation would inspire me to try. Or give me much faith in the standard of health and cleanliness in the manufacturing process.
But then I guess, if you have ever toured a slaughter house you may possibly be put off eating real meat for a while.

So, your turn. What do you think? Would you be tempted to try 3D printed steak? Or plant based meats of any kind? Let us know in the comments section. Now, we know this is a contentious subject, so play nice OK?
Of course, if you have a question or need support for your brand in China [ doesn’t have to be fake :>) as always Everlyne is happy to chat with you, by phone or face to face. Sorry haven’t worked out a way to 3D print her yet~

Hello, I’m Everlyne Yu, founder and CEO of Uengager and WPBeijing Marketing Studio 2003.

I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the China market and have been privileged to work with many international clients, such as VW and their release of their Bora and the extremely successful CC as well as a long term, ongoing relationship with Sodexo.

I am happy to chat and discuss any questions, no matter how small or trivial you may think. Probably someone has already asked the same question- many times!

In China Marketing- there is no such thing as a silly question.

To see how your brand can flourish in China, please talk to Everlyne now.

Ev Yu
Everlyne Yu CEO Uengager

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