Zhenmeat; a Chinese startup, has launched a vegan alternative to crayfish and deep-fried pork. The company says it is targeting ‘the appetites of local consumers’.
China is the world’s biggest pork consumer. According to reports. An average Chinese person eats about 30 kg of pork a year. The Chinese economy also is a major consumer of crayfish.
Zhenmeat’s crayfish is made with plant-based ingredients. Specifically seaweed and konjac extracts. While its plant-based pork is made with pea and soy protein with sweet potato starch, which creates a crispy coat when fried.
Right now, Zhenmeat’s largest competitors are not domestic. But international. The U.S based Beyond meat is amongst them. They made their debut into the Chinese market in April through a partnership with Starbucks. And Later with Pizzahut and KFC. Hong Kong’s Green Common is also amongst its competitors. They also launched their plant-based product, a vegan pork; Ominpork in China too.
Zhenmeat founder and CEO Vince Lu said to CNBC. “For the plant-based meat, U.S. companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible are very successful with the burger. They have their unique tech to make the burger taste juicy and like beef. But since (the) start-up of Zhenmeat, we are always focusing on Chinese cuisine,”
He added that Zhenmeat’s advantage is to create food that appeals most to the Chinese people.
“Our unique advantage is to find the most favorite dishes in China and use tech to replicate these meat dishes.”
The COVID 19 Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has hit hard on the plant-based industry and the worldwide economy in general. Despite the increase in popularity of plant-based products. But Lu pointed out a potential upside of the pandemic. He said it has changed attitudes towards plant-based products.
“I think one of the negative impacts is the slow services and slow rebound of the food services sector. We have all seen that” Lu said. “They are struggling, our potential clients are struggling with their own business. It slows down our expansion into Chinese and Western food services.”
“We talk to a lot of consumers and a lot of market research has shown Chinese consumers are growing [to] the idea [that] eating more protein will boost their immune system”. “And plant-based protein will be the future choice, I believe.”