BEIJING (Reuters) - While China is no stranger to food using vegetarian ingredients to give a meat-like flavor, the buzz around Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in the U.S. is driving a series of Chinese companies to roll out similar pea or soy-based meat products.
Many are not making burgers, instead focusing on local dishes like dumplings, mooncakes or meatballs, and opting for pork rather than beef flavors in recognition of local palates.
Here are some of the would-be challengers to Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat:
Founded in 1993, the company’s main clients have traditionally been religious groups including temples and monasteries but it has been trying to broaden its product range to appeal to a wider audience.
Many of its products are known as “mock meat” in China and currently has partnerships with Alibaba Group Holding’s supermarket arm Hema and Tencent-backed retailer Yonghui Superstores. It had a retail tie-up with Walmart this year which the firm says has since expired.
The 25-year-old firm company said in October it had developed a plant-based meat product with Danisco (China) Investment, a unit of U.S. firm DuPont, that was cholesterol-free and contained no animal hormones or antibiotics.
The Xinhua news agency quoted Ma Xiaozhong, CTO and chief engineer of the company, as saying the firm has obtained a food production license for the product and recently sold 1,000 beef-flavoured artificial patties in a online sales event.
It is also able to produce five tonnes of plant-based meat products a day and has developed pork-flavored artificial patties and meatballs, Xinhua reported.
The company was started this year by Lu Zhongming, who said he developed a plant-based meat while he was studying in the United States. Zhenmeat aims to roll out food products derived from vegetable protein, and has a partnership with noodle manufacturer Yantai Shuangta Food to do so.
Starfield developed mooncakes stuffed with artificial meat made from bean protein with a lab team from Beijing Technology and Business University this year.
The product aims to imitate real meat in color, smell, taste, texture and even sound, such as the noise given off when meat is deep fried, Li Jian, the university lab team’s leader, was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper in August.
Known in China primarily as a packaging manufacturer, the company said in October it was conducting research into creating plant-based meat and hosted a tasting event for some of its products.
Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh. Editing by Lincoln Feast.