New GFI report illustrates the state of China’s plant-based meat industry

In 2018, the market size of the Chinese domestic plant-based meat industry was about 6.1 billion yuan (910 million USD), reflecting a year-on-year increase of 14.2 percent.
Plant-based dumplings in broth

The waves of Beyond Meat’s record-breaking IPO have been felt around the world. Last week, at a trade show in Shanghai, Chinese customers flocked to the Beyond Meat booth. This is truly a global sea change.

With this accelerating interest in plant-based meat, we continue to receive an influx of requests from media and the industry inquiring:

GFI’s first-of-its-kind China Plant-based Meat Industry Report 2018 (just released!) seeks to answer all these questions and more.

Here’s a small taste:

Graph of china's plant-based meat production volume and growth rate

GFI-APAC managing director Elaine Siu explains, “If expanding alternatives to animal-based foods to the mainstream market requires taking ethics off the table in the West, it requires taking religion off the table in the East.” In China, “mock meat” or “vegetarian meat” was recorded at least as early as a thousand years ago, during the Tang dynasty. A variety of mock meat products have long been available because many of the country’s adherents of Buddhism eat a partially or fully vegetarian diet. However, this industry has not yet begun producing “2.0” plant-based meats—products that are attractive not only to vegetarians but also to meat eaters.

The types of innovations taking place elsewhere in the protein technology space—such as cell-based meat, fermentation technology, and machine learning to discover new edible plants—are moving at a much slower pace compared to other tech sectors in China. However, Chinese investors are beginning to back international startups to help commercialize and scale these technologies in the future Chinese market. China’s first food tech venture capital firm, Bits x Bites, has invested in two Israeli startups in this sector in 2018: cellular agriculture company Future Meat Technologies and chickpea protein company InnovoPro.

While many people are excited about the sheer size of China’s consumer market, Elaine points out that, “with a local abundance of non-GMO soybeans and huge capacity to process plant-based raw materials including soy and pea, China has the potential to play a major role in accelerating the plant-based meat trend around the world by increasing production and bringing down costs.”

Consumer, investor, processor, producer: China has many pivotal roles to play in accelerating the global shift to new forms of meat production. Get the full picture with GFI’s China Plant-Based Meat Industry Report 2018.


Mary allen

Mary Allen GFI ALUM

Mary Allen is a science writer, creative strategist, and GFI alum focused on the intersection of sustainability and emerging technology. Find more of her work at