China announces an agricultural plan that includes cultivated meat

15 Feb 2022

China has officially taken a stake in the alternative protein sector, announcing that cultivated meat and ‘future foods’ are sectors in which it will actively participate, according to the country’s recently-released five-year agricultural plan that was reported on by Time Magazine. This is the first time the country has included plant-based protein options as part of its blueprint for future food security.

This announcement caught the attention of alternative protein producers worldwide that are eying China's expansive potential market. Protein consumption in China is staggering. The country consumes 28% of the world's meat, and per capita consumption has tripled since the 1980s, Time reported. Continued demand for animal protein has, however, come up against some significant hurdles recently, including an outbreak of African Swine Fever in 2019 and 2020, which caused domestic pork production to drastically decline in China — a country that consumes half of all the world’s pork.

China announces an agricultural plan that includes cultivated meat

Despite these difficulties, pork production in China rose in 2021, according to Rabobank. Such reliance on animal agriculture has not benefitted China’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are the largest in the world. According to a report on climate change by the country’s government, livestock was responsible for nearly 29% of agricultural emissions in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.

However, switching to plant-based meat on a large scale may not be a simple task for the Chinese government. Animal protein has long been associated with health and status in this Asian powerhouse, and taste remains a significant stumbling block. In a LinkedIn post from The Good Food Institute APAC, the advocacy group said, “Deeper investment in product R&D—especially on textural and flavor elements—is needed to develop and scale up products that can appeal to Chinese consumers' famously discerning palates.”

Furthermore, acceptance of cultivated meat is not yet widespread, nor has China’s government officially approved the commercial sale of such proteins. Singapore is currently the only nation where cultivated proteins are sold to the public. Nevertheless, this agricultural blueprint is a sign that this might change, and meanwhile, the general consumption of plant-based options is growing in the country. ADM predicts that the plant-based market in China will reach $14.5 billion in 2025 from under $10 billion in 2018.

Worldwide, the acceptance of alternative proteins is also growing. A report from Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corporation found that alt-proteins are on a trajectory to represent 11% ($290 billion) of the protein market by 2035, up from 2% in 2020. China is no different.

In its Innovative Protein Industry Outlook report, the country outlined strategies to increase consumption of what it calls “new protein” or “plant meat.” The Good Food Institute indicated that these terms were selected in favor of plant-based meat “to distinguish products from the first-generation ‘vegetarian meats’ that have existed in China for centuries.”

Plant-based protein companies have been on the rise in China. Recently Starfield Foods closed an investment round that was the largest in Chinese history for plant-based meat. But cultivated meat is also beginning to raise funds. Joes Future Food previously raised almost $11 million in a funding round to begin lab-grown pork production.

While this five-year blueprint has yet to be put into action, it is an indication that the world’s largest consumer of animal protein is now considering alternatives. Such a seismic shift in consumption has the potential to create ripples for the rest of the world.

Related news

Celebrity Indian couple backs Indian startup Blue Tribe Foods

Celebrity Indian couple backs Indian startup Blue Tribe Foods

14 Feb 2022

Indian startup Blue Tribe Foods has brought Bollywood star Anushka Sharma and her husband cricket competitor Virat Kohli onto its board as investors and brand ambassadors. The vegetarian couple has a combined 240 million Instagram followers and are voc...

Read more 
Butter is Better: Keto is driving resurgence as a premium product

Butter is Better: Keto is driving resurgence as a premium product

11 Feb 2022

After years of being shunned as an ingredient, fat is back thanks in large part to the popularity of the keto diet. The market for keto products is growing steadily with the global value of this category forecast to reach $15.6 billion by 2027, accordi...

Read more 
Mondelez: Consumers continue to prefer snacks to meals

Mondelez: Consumers continue to prefer snacks to meals

9 Feb 2022

It’s no secret that snacking has become commonplace. Vast majority of people are consuming snacks on a daily basis, and snacking is no longer the exclusive domain of better-for-you options, according to Mondelez International’s third annual State of Sn...

Read more 
Nestlé Health Science acquires US plant-based nutrition company

Nestlé Health Science acquires US plant-based nutrition company

8 Feb 2022

The health science division of the world’s largest food manufacturer is acquiring a majority stake in Orgain, a maker of protein powders, shakes and bars, according to a press release. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founder ...

Read more 
PepsiCo and Starbucks partner to launch energy drink

PepsiCo and Starbucks partner to launch energy drink

7 Feb 2022

Starbucks is launching a branded energy drink called Baya through its partnership with PepsiCo, according to a press release from the coffee chain. The 12-ounce ready-to-drink cans of liquid energy will come in three fruity flavors: Mango Guava, Raspbe...

Read more 
Euromonitor’s top consumer trends in 2022 – and what they mean for the food industry

Euromonitor’s top consumer trends in 2022 – and what they mean for the food industry

7 Feb 2022

From direct-to-consumer e-commerce to upcycled food or functional ingredients for holistic wellbeing, we look at how food and drink manufacturers can leverage some of 2022’s top consumer trends into their portfolios.

Read more 
Mexican brand Sigma launches amaranth-based snack in the US market

Mexican brand Sigma launches amaranth-based snack in the US market

4 Feb 2022

Chocke-Obleas are arriving from Mexico to key markets in the U.S., thanks to multinational company Sigma. The Mexican snack wafer is made with chocolate, artisan wafers and crispy popped amaranth, and the wafers currently come in two flavors: chocolate...

Read more 
Report: U.S. alcohol sales pass $6B, growth on the horizon

Report: U.S. alcohol sales pass $6B, growth on the horizon

3 Feb 2022

Online sales of alcohol reached $6.1 billion in 2021, and that growth is expected to continue to climb through 2022, according to a new report from the global food and agribusiness bank Rabobank.

Read more 
Starfield lands largest plant-based funding round in China’s history

Starfield lands largest plant-based funding round in China’s history

2 Feb 2022

Chinese alternative protein manufacturer Starfield Food Science & Technology closed a $100 million Series B funding round — the largest in China’s recorded history to date, according to a release from the company.

Read more 
World’s largest indoor vertical farm planned for construction in US

World’s largest indoor vertical farm planned for construction in US

1 Feb 2022

Indoor aquaponic farming company Upward Farms is aiming high with its new project to open the world’s largest indoor vertical farming plant in early 2023. The 250,000-square-foot (six-acre) facility will be two to four times the size of the next larges...

Read more