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More Mock Meat Masquerading in China

Fake meat in China, image source Caixin

Hello for Wednesday the 30th June, our last article and last day of the month. Tomorrow we welcome July and what is supposedly the hotter part of the year. But so far, the weather has been anything but seasonal so all bets for July are off. Anyway, today , we are revisiting the artificial meat saga in China. Let’s take an ultra fast scan of the time lines.

Artificial meat hit the headlines in China a year or more back now when the two US players launched with tie ups with other US well known brands. We have already covered this under: China’s Faux Meat Saga, Beyond Meat to Produce in China, China and the Plant Based Meat Saga, and China and the Meatless Meat Revolution.

The Honk Kong brand, Green Day was already doing fair business via its on line shopping sites with JD etal. About this time last year the global food giant Nestle announced plans for a multi million dollar investment in its artificial meat plant in Tianjin. At around the same time, yet another US food giant, Cargill launched in China in a tie up with KFC. A week after launch date The Bic visited the local KFC for a taste, only to find the product had been pulled off the menu. Staff were unable to explain why.

Perhaps fresh off their US launch and pumped with euphoria Meatless Farms– a UK brand was rumoured to be exploring options in China early 2020. Nothing more has been heard of that to date. Pity as we would have loved to see if they kept their “Tabloid Newspaper” style web design for the China market. We’re still thinking about that, an unusual choice given the UK tabloids are synonymous with low end, crass, hyperbole sensationalist reporting. Maybe there is an (extremely) obscure tongue in cheek play on fake meat and fake news? But somehow we doubt it.

Meanwhile, industry insiders, “experts,” business and marketing analysts were all but pouring cold water on this ever being a hugely profitable segment in China. Various headlines echoed this sentiment such as this from China Daily: Experts say ‘fake meat’ may not cook up a storm in China . This seemed to fit with our own experience and an extremely unscientific straw poll around the middle of 2020. Our feedback reflected similar views to the comments in the China Daily;

“The deep-fried pork strip tasted like real pork,” ….. but I won’t buy it because I would rather go for real meat.”

“I just wanted to know to what extent artificial meat can provide the taste and texture of real meat,” she said. After trying the pizza, she said she had no intention of buying it again.”The taste is very average. It’s just not delicious. It tastes like inferior starchy meatballs,” 

The ersatz pot bubbles again

That was all a year ago.This is China. A month is a long time here, anything could happen. So coming up to date, today, after almost a year hiatus,it didn’t surprise us to read that artificial meat is back in the China news again. Last Friday, Livekindly Collective, a New York-based company, launched two new plant-based meat brands in China.What did surprise us was the unusual product names: Giggling Pig and Happy Chicken. We are curious if and how that will be translated into Chinese. However, the brand says it is aimed at Chinese Gen Z, optimistically seen:

 as those most likely to embrace lifestyles they consider healthier and less detrimental to the environment 

Read their full press Release here

In which case perhaps the choice of brand names is apt for a niche market sector barely out of childhood. However, we can not help but wonder if they have factored in another charming trait of that generation, namely fickleness and lack of brand loyalty.

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