Pro Taste

Plant-based developments in China in 2020

2020 was a challenging year for all of us at ProVeg. The ongoing pandemic is still affecting most of the world and almost all areas of life. Despite the uncertain times, Proveg China managed to organize three key events towards the end of the year.

China meets Germany

ProVeg hosted the event ‘The Future of Food: China Meets Germany’ in October 2020 in Shanghai. Organized in partnership with the German Chamber of Commerce in China and the Federal Republic of Germany, the event was aimed at connecting China’s plant-based sector with that of the West. It was part of the More Than a Market Forum, an annual event that aims to support and inspire social and environmental engagement by German companies in China.

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China as a key consumer market

At ‘The Future of Food’, participants had the chance to sample plant-based food from various sustainable brands, listen to insightful presentations, and join an inspiring panel discussion from experts in the food and beverage industry. In her speech, Shirley Lu, ProVeg Managing Director for Asia, explained how China’s long-established food culture can help to benefit and grow local plant-based innovation opportunities.

“China is a key consumer market, powered by the sophistication and China’s long history of culinary culture, as well as consumers’ evolving demand for satisfying tastes and textures, making the Chinese market rich in innovative opportunities. ProVeg is committed to bridging plant-based innovations in China and helping innovative food companies to introduce healthy and planet-friendly foods, both for Chinese consumers and for a better world.” 

Shirley Lu

ProVeg Managing Director for Asia

Winners of the Plant-Based Food Innovation contest announced

In June 2020, we announced the launch of the Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest in Shanghai. Taking place in collaboration with the Shanghai Society of Food Science, the contest was the very first of its kind in Asia. The aim was to accelerate the innovation of sustainable and healthy plant-based food in the region by facilitating collaboration between young talent and leading food-and-beverage companies. In mid-November 2020, the winners of the very first Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest were announced

ProVeg China launches plant-based food innovation contest in Shanghai

The contest is a collaboration between ProVeg China and the Shanghai Society of Food Science, and seeks to accelerate the innovation of sustainable and healthy vegan food in the region.

Students were mentored by industry experts

260 students from over 20 universities across China as well as 10 food-and-beverage companies took part in the contest. The participating companies were Beyond Meat, Bright Dairy & Food Co., ChaCheer, Danone, Ferrero, Griffith Foods, Lee Kum Kee, New Hope Liuhe Co., Oatly, the Shanghai Society of Food Science, and ProVeg. Students competed in three different categories: product innovations, applications innovations, and advocacy innovations. Over the course of the contest, each student group was mentored by senior executives from the participating companies.

Award ceremony for the Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest

The final award ceremony took place on 19 November 2020 in Shanghai. Guests included different industry experts, government officials, academics, and senior business executives. The finalists were judged on their project’s possible impact, creativity, feasibility, and go-to-market strategy. Additionally, students were able to vote online for their favorite submissions. More than 21,000 students voted. 

“Based on participation levels, the launch of the China Plant-based Food Innovation Contest not only helped accelerate enthusiasm in plant-based innovation across multiple food categories, but also played an essential role in increasing awareness among millennials about the benefits and urgency of plant-based diets – for  health, society, and the environment,” said Shirley Lu, Director of ProVeg Asia, talking about the success of the project.

Three student groups received the award for third place, which included funding of 3.000RMB (about 400 Euros) for each group. Projects varied from nut-based snacks to drinks and baked goods for tea time, as well as sauces and seasoning for plant-based burgers, and potato and seaweed-based convenience sauces. The award for second place went to two student groups who each received 5.000RMB (about 600 Euros). One group worked with ProVeg on the advocacy plan ‘Let’s go plant-based!’, while the other group worked with Bright Dairy & Food Co. on nourishing plant-based yogurts. First place went to the project ‘Look good: there is mushroom, there is youth. Mixed mushroom-based meat, fish balls, and crispy snacks’. The group worked with New Hope Liuhe Co. and received 10.000RMB (about 1,200 Euros).

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The Contest successfully raised awareness

The Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest was a positive experience for all participants. It raised students’ awareness about plant-based products and the opportunities that the industry provides. It brought industry experts and students together in order to develop innovative new products, which helped companies gain fresh ideas and helped students to network and potentially find internships or employment. Most importantly, the Plant-Based Food Innovation Contest helped to promote plant-based lifestyles to Chinese consumers. 

“China has a long time heritage of plant rich diets. We were impressed by the quality of the students’ plant-based innovations. China is not only an important consumer market but also a key source of plant-based innovations given the long history of China’s culinary arts and consumers’ sophistication in the food sector,” Shirley Lu, Director of ProVeg Asia.

Plant-Based Food Innovation Forum at Food Ingredients Asia-China

In November 2020, ProVeg China also organized the Plant-Based Food Innovation Forum, part of Food Ingredients Asia-China, the go-to event for innovative food-and-beverage ingredients and solutions.

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Support by major food industry brands and plant-based startups

The event, which was held at the National Convention and Exhibition Center, showcased different plant-based innovations, ranging from protein, flavors, fats, and oils to texturants and aspects of smart manufacturing. It was supported by major food industry brands, including Cargill, Givaudan, AAK, Ashland, and Bruhler, as well as plant-based startups, including Starfield, Omnipork, Z-Rou, Hey Maet, and Haofood. The Forum celebrated new product development through its showcase of culinary diversity and innovation. As well as insightful talks, plant-based entrepreneurs had the chance to exchange experiences at a round table. 

“China is a game-changing market in the plant-based movement. Speakers explored solutions from taste, texturants, and nutrition to smart manufacturing. Discussions included how to crack the market and the Chinese government’s recently-announced policy to incentivize enterprises and academic collaboration in this sector. Plant-based innovation represents an important opportunity for food enterprises’ future growth,” said Shirley Lu, Director of ProVeg Asia.


ProVeg China accelerates the shift towards a more sustainable food system 

Plant-based living is on the rise in the world’s most populous country. According to Ipsos, more than 50 million people currently follow a plant-based diet in China, which accounts for 4 to 5% of the population. More than 90% of Chinese consumers know about  plant-based meat, and consumers are increasingly showing an interest in purchasing such products.1 ProVeg China actively promotes the benefits of plant-based diets in the region. Overall, these successful and impactful events organized by ProVeg China will help to promote healthier and environmentally friendlier plant-based food products in one of the world’s largest markets. 



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