Be & Cheery Launches China's First 'Artificial Meat' Snack
COVID-19 and China
Image Credit: Jez Timms/Unsplash

Casual snack firm Be & Cheery (百草味) launched its first generation of 'artificial meat' products on January 13, targeting younger generations seeking to pursue a healthier lifestyle. The artificial meat sausage is made of mainly genetically modified soybean; it is considered the first domestic artificial meat product utilizing low-temperature technology in its production. The product is already available on the Tmall e-commerce platform.

Founded in 2003, Be & Cheery is headquartered in Hangzhou. It is a casual snack e-commerce brand, boasting over 300 products across five types of food including roasted nuts, pastries, dried fruits and meats, and gift boxes. 

Be & Cheery started their venture into the artificial meat project in June of 2019, with the establishment of the Be & Cheery Food Research Institute (百草味食品研究院). The firm has reached technical cooperation with several foreign companies in the industry, including the US-based DuPont.

The company is set to release its second artificial meat product within the first quarter of 2020, in collaboration with DuPont for technology and raw materials. The second-generation product aims to improve the quality and the 'snack' factor of the product.

China currently accounts for 28% of global food consumption and over half of global pork consumption, and appetite for these products is still increasing at an unprecedented rate. This is mainly fueled by the rise of disposable income. As per data taken from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) covering the last five decades, meat and vegetable consumption in China has surged by 2,286% and 1,165.5% respectively. It is expected that the typical Chinese will consume an annual average of 55 kg by 2026. 

In the midst of recent deadly swine fever virus, and in light of China's limited arable land and water shortages, artificial meat may provide a promising opportunity to fulfill China's ever-increasing meat demand, while simultaneously combating climate change due to the large emission of greenhouse gasses from the livestock industry.

While 'Mock meat' has been available in China for thousands of years, innovation in the field of protein technology space is growing at a relatively slower pace in comparison to other technology industries. The industry has just entered the latest phase of the plant-based meat revolution.

Several local startups betting on plant-based meat have emerged over the year. These include Zhenmeat (珍肉), Starfield and Omnipork (新猪肉). However, unlike Be & Cheery, these startups are focused on local heavy foods such as dumplings, meatballs and noodles. Global startups that are seeking to nab a piece of China's burgeoning market are Impossible Foods and Beyond Meats, which concentrate on Western food such as burgers.

The Good Food Institute revealed that China's alternative meat market size hit USD 910 million in 2018, an increase of 14.2% from the preceding year. The US on the other hand only managed to consume USD 684 million during the same year, with a year-on-year increase of 23%.

Editor: Luke Sheehan

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