HONG KONG – China has become a battleground for plant-based meat companies looking to tap into the world’s largest market for meat-consumption.
American plant-based meat company Impossible Foods Inc. said Thursday it is awaiting regulatory approval to enter the China market, while rivals such as Beyond Meat have pushed forward with plans to set up production in China despite edgy relations between Beijing and Washington.
Those are just two of the companies with sights set on the 1.4 billion Chinese consumers they hope may join their Western counterparts in seeking alternatives to meat beyond traditional mock meat offerings that already span the spectrum from faux crab to duck breast and steak.
Impossible Foods needs extra regulatory approvals because its plant-based meat products include genetically modified substances including heme, a molecule that imparts a meaty flavor, as well as soy protein
“We’re going through a regulatory process and it takes its time. It’s going well as far as I can tell,” said Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told reporters. “But as soon as we get to the other end of that, we’ll see you the next day.”
Beyond Meat, which this week announced it is opening a factory in an industrial zone near Shanghai, says it does not use any genetically modified ingredients.
Nestle has said it is expanding a plant-based products factory in the northeastern city of Tianjin.
Local Chinese companies such as Zhenmeat and Starfield also are expanding their businesses, partnering with restaurants across the country and even offering vegan-based seafood.