China’s appetite for meat has started to decline as the country has possibly started to uphold the vegan revolution. Concerns over carbon emissions and food crises are being identified as the reason. Although China still consumes 28% of the world’s meat, including half of all pork, and boasts a meat market. China has always shown increasing demand of meat, especially pork in the middle class society. It has carried the sign of financial comforts and luxury.
But now plant based food are being the substitutes and slowly carving their graph heading north. Consumers are increasingly showing interests as they were alarmed by Covid-19 and African swine fever. Significantly, after the coronavirus outbreak the Chinese government brought in new regulations on the trade and consumption of wild animals.
Some of China’s social media groups, websites and communities started inclining towards meat-free lifestyles. They are also getting to give a new thrill to their taste buds. A report published by the Good Food Institute, China’s plant based meat market was estimated at 6.1 billion Yuan during 2018 and it is projected to grow 20%-25% annually.
KFC have some famous outlets in eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. But recently they started to serve their food in green buckets and the nuggets within it are meat free. The green shoots of a vegan meat revolution in full swing to sprout. Additionally, Burger King is offering impossible whopper and Starbucks is serving beyond meat pastas, salads and wraps that is revealing proclivity towards vegan foods.
Some of the domestic companies are also setting up shops. If the citizens are moving aside from meat, even then they will require proteins. So the demand for alternative proteins will be a way to for the citizens to continue with their ‘luxury’ of meat. That has helped many Chinese competitors to enter in the market along with the international houses like Cargill, Unilever and Nestlé. Packets of plant-based omni-porks are also being offered with sale in the country.
During 2016 to bring down the level of carbon emissions, the Chinese government delineated a plan to reduce the country’s meat intake by 50%. At that time, it was considered as a radical move. Few other governments across the globe also started to focus on meat consumption for reducing carbon emission.
The Chinese government also introduced another guideline that counselled the citizens to intake only 40g-75g meat per day. Alternative proteins were suggested for consumption. Then it was not a very popular move in the country though. Additionally, in 2020, Sun Baoguo, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at the annual two sessions of parliament gave a heads up for artificial meat.
But a major challenge remains. Plant-based proteins now cost far more than normal meat. This can keep the cautious buyers away. Commenting on the price range, Franklin Yao, CEO, Z-Rou (produces plant-based mince substitute) told news house the Guardian, “They would even be willing to pay more as they know they’re getting a healthier product that’s helping ensure the future of the planet their children are inheriting.”