Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods Compete Against Local Startups in China

Writing earlier this month at The Wall Street Journal Online, Stephanie Yang reported that, “Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc. are considering China as their next big market for plant-based meat products, but local startups aim to leverage their own knowledge of Chinese tastes to gain an edge over the U.S. companies.

“China is emerging as an attractive market for alternative-meat makers because purchasing power and meat consumption have grown at a rapid clip in the world’s most populous country. In addition, Chinese officials have encouraged meat alternatives amid a deadly swine epidemic that has wiped out as much as half of China’s pig population and pushed up pork, beef and poultry prices.

“Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, Calif., unveiled its plant-based meat burger in China last month at a Shanghai trade fair attended by President Xi Jinping, while rival Beyond Meat, based in Los Angeles, has made plans to enter China next year.”

The Journal article noted that, “Chinese entrepreneurs aren’t sitting still. China has a tradition of vegetarian meals, and Buddhists in China have been offering their own meat alternatives for centuries. A number of companies are now rushing their own meat substitutes to market, betting they can better cater to Chinese appetites.

“During the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in September, Beijing-based startup Zhenmeat, founded this past May, received attention by using e-commerce platforms to sell thousands of traditional mooncakes made with a plant-based pork substitute.”

Ms. Yang added that, “Chinese officials have touted the virtues of protein alternatives—warning about an uptick in health issues such as obesity and diabetes—while raising concerns about nutrition and food security.”

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