China’s alternative protein industry is evolving and restructuring amidst the backdrop of post-pandemic uncertainty, budget and health-conscious consumers, and agrifood industry trends. The China Alternative Protein Products Market Landscape Report 2023 takes the pulse of the current situation, examining trends, key categories, and implications for industry development.
Now into its third edition, this report has been published by Asymmetrics Research since 2021 and is available for free to the public. Extensive ongoing research has been done to gather industry insights, in-market primary and secondary data. Interviews were conducted with 30 industry stakeholders including alternative protein brands, technology owners and manufacturers, investors, industry alliances and marketing platforms, and advisory experts.
Some major trends mentioned in the report:
- Plant-based milk and ready-to-drink beverages, yoghurt and ice cream, “meat” and prepared meals, “meat” snacks, and protein functional foods are key active categories sold in the market. Plant-based ice cream has emerged to expand PB dairy application on a commercial scale.
- The plant-based meat and milk categories especially have seen restructuring and attrition of players. Players are controlling costs, and adjusting portfolios and brand positioning. Some are diversifying across categories to target specific consumer segments and consumption scenarios.
- Plant-based brands are targeting health and conscious eating trends. For example, many plant-based milk and ready-to-drink beverages highlight having no cane sugar and some have added functional ingredients. For the plant-based meat and prepared meals, consumers’ concerns include taste, mouthfeel and additive level; clean label (simple ingredient list) is a growing food trend which brands should pay attention to.
- Investment in alternative proteins has generally been slower in 2023 amidst tough fundraising and macro conditions. Recent larger deals have been in cell-based culture and fermentation start-ups.
- New fermentation technology can be harnessed to produce microbial biomass using yeast, microalgae or mycelium through biomass fermentation, or to produce functional ingredients using precision fermentation. The segment will need to overcome regulatory approval, expand product applications, scale up production and gain consumer understanding.
- In cell-based culture, the number of companies has grown in the past two years, albeit from a small base. The top challenges for this segment are to reduce costs and scale up production, obtain regulatory approval, and in the longer run gain consumer acceptance.
The report also gathers insights from various industry stakeholders on actions to enable industry development including R&D, regulations and industry collaboration. Ultimately, alternative protein players need to provide tasty and high-value offerings which fulfil target consumer segments’ health and nutritional wants in the shorter term, and expand technology and application possibilities aligned with policy directions in the longer term.
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About Asymmetrics Research
Asymmetrics Research is a customised market research practice that focuses on food and agriculture in China and APAC markets. We study the industry ecosystem from farm to table to understand trends, needs and gaps, and track the drivers of change that impact users, markets and value chains. With combined experience of over 40 years working with Fortune 500 companies, academics and senior officials, we provide well-structured market research insights to support strategic business decisions. Asymmetrics Research is based in Beijing and Singapore.
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