The China plant protein market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.44%, from US$555.441 million in 2020 to US$918.068 million in 2027.
China holds the third position in life expectancy in the whole world, followed by Japan and the U.S., which is attributable to the decent food and beverage consumption practices and the growing adoption of plant-based protein in order to mitigate the threats associated with living a sedentary lifestyle. This kind of lifestyle is prevalent among a majority of the middle-aged population and younger generation, with the limited interest shown in exercise or staying fit. Therefore, with more people getting aware of spending more on better quality and better protein sources, the demand for alternative sources of protein is increasing.
Changing consumer dietary habits are anticipated to bound add impetus to market growth.
The growing awareness of environmental awareness and a preference for vegan-based foods will aid market expansion. According to a 2020 study by DuPont, China is one of the few countries that is anticipated to witness the fastest growth in the plant-based protein market. The report forecasts that demand for meat substitutes will rise by 200 percent over the next five years due to increased interest in sustainability and health.
Pharmaceuticals to hold a significant share
By application, the market has been segmented on the basis of dietary supplements, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and animal feed. Pharmaceuticals are estimated to hold a noteworthy share in the market, which is attributable to the fact that there are increasing investments and partnerships by the pharmaceutical players to bolster the development of the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, in September 2019, iBio, one of the leading companies involved in the development of plant-based pharmaceuticals, announced that they had extended their partnership agreement with CC-Pharming. Under this extension of the agreement, CC-pharming will commercialize iBio's pharma product Rituximab, which is used to treat several autoimmune diseases. Additionally, CC-Pharming has also been given the approval to conduct research activities, which will allow it to facilitate the establishment of a plant-based manufacturing technology facility, FastPharming, in China.
Strategic initiatives deployed by the government and major food brands in plant alternative spaces are anticipated to drive the market onward.
China's 14th Five-Year Plan's national strategic objectives aim to establish a better food system that includes work on cultured beef and plant-based eggs. This change will undoubtedly have an impact on the rest of the world. The government describes its intention to promote innovation through 2025 in the plant-based protein, milk, and egg, segments while concentrating on cutting-edge food technologies like cultured meat under the category "Optimizing the Development Strategy of Agricultural Science & Tech" in the 14th instalment of the strategic plan.
With such developments, many brands are actively deploying several strategic investments to expand their offerings in China. The strategic launches by Cargil and Herotein are the best examples of this. In June 2020, renowned international food brand Cargill forayed into the Chinese plant-based proteins market with the launch of the plant-based protein consumer brand, PlantEver, in the country. This development was followed by a trial of the consumers' response to plant-based nuggets in collaboration with KFC in April of the same year.
Apart from major food giants, several start-ups are also actively expanding their footprint in the country.
In January 2022, for instance, a Chinese Start-up, Starfield Food Science and Technology, raised the largest ever funding via its Series B, a fifth round, obtaining about $100 million. The major investors are Beijing-based Primavera Capital Group, Joy Capital, Matrix Partners China, and Alibaba's CSO Ming Zeng, among a few others. Simultaneously, the firm unveiled its intention to establish the first production facility in Hubei province. Furthermore, the brand has also forged partnerships with HeyTea, Dico, Ole' Supermarkets, FamilyMart chain, and Tim Horton, leading tea, fast food, supermarket, and convenience store chains, respectively, across the country
The strategic developments deployed by the key market players are anticipated to drive the market onward.
Product offerings are one of the initiatives that are being taken by the market players so that they are able to maximize their profits, gain a competitive edge over their rivals, fulfil the ever-rising demand for enhanced plant protein products and provide a boost to the market's growth. For instance, RoquetteFrères, one of the leading companies dealing with the provision of plant products derived from corn, and potato, among others, offers their product "NUTRALYS Pea Protein," which is a product offering under the NUTRALYS range, is able to facilitate the provision of the perfect amount of proteins to the individuals involved in sports. The composition of this pea protein product helps in the development of muscle mass and optimum nutrition and has high protein content. In addition, it is easily digestible, rich in arginine (about 8.7% per gram of protein), and rich in BCAA's (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine, which are essential for peak sports performance. Another product offered by Roquette Frères is "GLUCIDEX - maltodextrins," which is primarily targeted at senior consumers or the geriatric population. This product is created using non-GM ingredients derived from plants such as corn, potato, and wheat, and its purpose is to provide optimum 100% glucose-based energy to consumers. It is easily and highly digestible and offers a high level of digestive tolerance apart from being totally gluten and lactose-free.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on the Chinese Plant-based proteins market. Owing to their high amount of amino acids and nutrients, the demand for plant-based proteins surged amid the pandemic. Exploiting the paradigm shift, multiple food tech giants launched a plant-based food market in 2020. KFC tested its new plant-based chicken nuggets across its sites in Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in April. On a similar note, McDonald also introduced a vegan meat selection on its menu for the first time in the aforementioned three cities.
The Scoular Company
Axiom Foods, Inc.
Koninklijke DSM N.V.
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