Substitutes changing appetite for pork

Plant-based protein makers are hoping to take a bite out of the massive meat market in China and throughout Asia

The Year of the Pig has failed to offer much comfort to the hog industry on the Chinese mainland, which has been ravaged by African swine fever, and some are betting big on making it the year plant-based meat substitute takes off in the world’s second-largest economy and throughout Asia.

David Yeung, founder of social enterprise Green Monday, plant-based concept store Green Common, and Right Treat, hopes to take a bite out of the massive meat market in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of pork, with “Omnipork.”

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Concocted by a research team in North America and produced in a factory in Thailand, Omnipork is made from soy, peas, shiitake mushrooms and rice protein, but it tries to mimic the taste, feel, texture and color of real pork. What it also looks to replicate is the runaway success of US-based plant-based meat substitute companies Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, whose stunning trading debut in Nasdaq and latest round of funding respectively have sent a strong message that plant-based alternatives are now a nationwide, or even worldwide, trend.

The meatless craze has what it takes to succeed in Asia, a region known for its appetite for pork and a dazzling array of ways to cook it.

Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley startup, has lost no time in joining the fray. It has its eyes trained on Asia, which contributes 44 percent of global demand for meat, as the first market after its home turf, the United States, to have the greatest impact.

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