The plant-based meat segment
The plant-based meat segment is cooling down.

Plant-based meat brand, Beyond Meat, reported financial results for 2021 with a net loss of USD 182.1 million. This is the 3rd consecutive year of reporting a loss for this iconic plant-based brand. In China, the plant-based meat concept is popular, and numerous companies have established their footprint in this segment. But from the consumption side, the sales of plant-based meat are not so optimistic. 

In fact, since 2019 the number of registered companies in the plant-based meat segment has declined, and only four companies registered in 2021. Consumers are not enthusiastic about plant-based meat at all. If we take the example of a related survey that was done in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, it shows that there are not many plant-based meat products in convenience stores, supermarkets, and e-commerce platforms. 

Leading dining and beverage brands, such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, Heytea, and Luckin Coffee, haven’t launched new plant-based meat products for a long time. The sales of most plant-based meat products, including plant-based chicken, plant-based beef jerky, and plant-based meat pie, didn’t exceed 1,000 units per month, a tremendously low number compared to the size of the potential market in China.  

Consumers are raising questions, such as how is the taste of the plant-based meat products? Is the price worth it? Do these plant-based meat products actually taste like real meat? 

A single plant-based meat product in KFC and Starbucks is priced at 40 yuan (USD 6.06); Burger King’s plant-based hamburger is priced at 25 yuan (USD 3.78); One box of Beyond Meat’s beef patty, which weighs 226g, is priced at 39 yuan (USD 5.9). Plant-based meat products are more expensive than their animal meat counterparts.  

Companies started shifting their focus from branding and marketing efforts to technologies, R&D, and supply chain. It proves that the plant-based meat segment is not mature enough in terms of a whole business operation. With internationally leading brands entering this segment in China, domestic brands need to make great efforts to promote the industrial revolution through technological innovations.  

GrainMeat, Omnipork, and Starfield built their own factories to improve R&D and supply chain, increase productivity, and lower costs. With these efforts, the plant-based meat segment may have a brighter future.  

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