China Takes Major Step Into Plant-Based Food Innovation

China has taken a major step into the plant-based food sector with the launch of the Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest in Shanghai.

The contest, a collaboration between food awareness organization ProVeg International and the Shanghai Society of Food Science, seeks to accelerate the innovation of sustainable and healthy plant-based food in the region. The contest is the first of its kind in Asia.

Around 100 students from eight leading universities, including Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai Ocean University, and East China University of Science and Technology, will take part in the contest, which has a total prize fund of RMB35,000 (EUR4,600).

Sebastian Joy, CEO of ProVeg International, said: “I believe that China’s embrace of innovation will be conducive to making the country a key driver of global progress. […] A food awareness organization such as ProVeg, which is fact-based and dedicated to promoting innovative plant-based and cell-based food alternatives can fill important niches in China, and support economic growth in a sustainable manner.”

Teams of participating students will compete in three main categories: pre-packaged foods, main-course recipes, and animal-free ingredients. Ten teams will then be selected as finalists to submit a business proposal.

Finalists will be regularly coached and mentored by industry experts from market-leading companies, including Bright Dairy – the leading dairy manufacturer in China – Lee Kum Kee, Danone, Beyond Meat, and Oatly, all of whom will provide lab facilities and materials for prototype development, and a budget for market research.

“Chinese consumers are very health conscious. According to a recent Mintel survey, about 70% of consumers are interested in reducing their meat consumption. Food companies would be wise to take advantage of this trend,” said Shirley Lu, executive director of ProVeg East Asia.

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