Chinese food startup Zhenmeat has released two new innovative plant-based products: a deep-fried vegan pork tenderloin, and a plant-based crayfish.
These new vegan offerings aim to satisfy the appetites of local consumers who are looking for alternatives to their favourite meat products. China is the world’s largest consumer of pork and one of the biggest consumers of crayfish.
The pork tenderloin is made with pea and soy protein. Its outside layer is made from sweet potato starch to give it unique crispiness when it is deep-fried.
Vegan crayfish is made from seaweed and an extract from a root plant called konjac.
Zhenmeat founder and CEO, Vince Lu, told CNBC: “For the plant-based meat, U.S. companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible are very successful with the burger. They have their unique tech to make burger taste juicy and like beef. But since (the) startup of Zhenmeat, we are always focusing on Chinese cuisine.”
“Our unique advantage is to find the most favourite dishes in China and use tech to replicate these meat dishes.”
“One major problem is that Chinese consumer(s) love crayfish, but if you look at consuming of crawfish, there are two big problems. One problem is a lot of food waste. The tail meat is smaller than (the) body. If you have 10 kg of crayfish, once you discard head and tails you only get 1 kg of crayfish meat,” Lu said.
“Second is: quality of the crawfish is not very even. Demand is so huge, but supply cannot meet demand.”
Zhenmeat is looking to raise $2 million by the end of this year. The startup has secured a “few hundred thousand USD” from Big Idea Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in plant-based food startups.
Lu says the coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s views toward plant-based food.
“We talk to a lot of consumers, and a lot of market research has shown Chinese consumer are growing (to) the idea (that) eating more protein will boost their immune system. And plant-based protein will be the future choice, I believe,” Lu said.