“The plant-based meat market has infinite development possibilities and business opportunities and is a sustainable industry. We hope that every company in the plant-based industry integrates the concept of co-existence of deliciousness and health into the product development process. Then we can open the hearts of end consumers for healthy food.”
-Fuji Holdings New Product Manager


Over the past century, protein production has doubled every three decades. While there is no denying the Western world’s role in the emergence of factory farming and its continued impact, China and east Asia represent the greatest potential for future impact. Lever’s goal is to help the sector grow more quickly, thereby reducing factory farming and building a humane and sustainable protein supply in Asia.

Alternative protein has a receptive public and strong government support in China and much of east Asia. As recently as early 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke publicly in support of the sector, and China’s Ministry of Agriculture added “research and development in cultivated meat, plant-based egg, milk, and oil, recombinant protein technology” and as a key objective in its official Five-Year Plan. The new policy also reflects a slow but growing trend in Asia: governments, businesses, and consumers increasingly note the importance of upgrading protein production. This upgrading includes embracing and accelerating the shift to alternative proteins, as indicated by a recent study by trade publication FoodPlus which found that 90% of Chinese consumers are interested in trying cultivated meat. In May 2018, a survey by the New Zealand Export Council revealed that Chinese consumers want to increase their intake of alternative proteins and believe meat alternatives are healthier than conventional meat.

Lever Bridges Gap Between Alt Protein Companies and Corporate Buyers

While the alternative protein sector has excellent latent potential in Asia, whether and how the market grows is an open question. Two key bottlenecks remain in the region. First, most local plant-based brands are lower in quality than their western counterparts. Secondly, a limited number of entrepreneurs focused on high-quality products or technologies launch companies in China and east Asia. For that reason, Lever promotes entrepreneurship in the sector by supporting aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startups in the region.

However, that only addresses one-half of the challenge. The ultimate success of the alternative protein market in China and east Asia is also tied to the job that corporate buyers do in selecting plant-based offerings with superior taste and texture profiles and marketing those products in a way that resonates with consumers. In April 2022 our partner organization Lever China launched an expanded corporate outreach program to increase interest in alternative protein and plant-based offerings among retail chains, mid-sized and large restaurant chains, packaged goods companies, hotel groups, bakeries, food manufacturers and distributors. In the several months since, Lever China has met with over 75 such companies to offer guidance, recommendations, and resources to generate interest and action in adding plant-based products to menus, shelves and ingredient lists.

In August of 2022, Lever China began hosting plant-based tasting events in Shanghai. With 25 corporate buyers including procurement managers, retail buyers, and food company executives in attendance the first event, guests sampled the latest high-quality alternative proteins by plant-based meat companies HEROTEIN and HaoFood, plant-based dessert company Greenice, and plant-based dairy company Marvelous Foods.   

By connecting corporate buyers with high-quality plant-based meat and dairy brands, Lever expects products to good alternative protein products to land on retail shelves and restaurant menus more quickly—increasing their accessibility and making sure consumers have a positive experience that increases repurchases and referrals.   

“The taste of plant-based food this time is very good. The domestic plant-based foods market is still not well understood. Promotion is needed first so that food-based products appear in front of the public. Then, the next few years will have very good prospects.”
-Hualala Sales Manager

“The event was very well run. There are many new companies, products, and ideas. The direction is positive, and I look forward to more players with strength and ideas joining this track. The organizer gave us a lot of new input, and we look forward to more interesting activities in the future.”
-The Little Red Book Investment Manager



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