From the concept of stir-frying to entering the supermarket, plant meat wants to impress the "Chinese stomach", it's still not quite
Our reporter Li He
Since the beginning of this year, not only "foreign fast food" such as KFC and Starbucks have continuously introduced plant-based meat products, but also plant-based meat products of local entrepreneurial brands such as Zhenrou, Zhuangrou and Weekly Zero have quietly entered restaurants and bars, even in Chinese restaurants. To the figure of plant flesh.
In addition to restaurants and bars, supermarket stores such as RT-Mart, Auchan, and Hema Xiansheng, as well as e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and Meituan, have frozen foods such as plant-based dumplings, spring rolls, and meat patties.
From "following the trend" and "specializing concepts" to entering restaurants and online shopping, the vegetable meat that used to be "only heard" is gradually entering people's homes.
Making plants into meat is easy to look like but difficult to look like
Plant meat is a kind of artificial meat.
Industry insiders said that to make a delicious piece of plant meat, both high-quality raw materials and unique processing techniques are required.
Plant meat mainly uses plant protein extracted from soybeans, peas, wheat and other crops as raw materials. The plant protein needed by the human body is extracted from the raw materials by chemical separation, and a series of heating, squeezing, cooling, and shaping are required. Steps to make it have the texture and taste of animal meat products.
"It is not difficult to make plant meat production technology using plant protein. The difficulty lies in how to make it have a taste, flavor and nutritional content similar to real meat. To make plant meat into simulated meat, the molecular structure of plant protein needs to be reconstructed into meat. The fibrous molecular structure, through the improvement of cross-linking enzymes and flavor proteases, gives plant meat the texture, chewiness and fragrance of animal meat." said Qu Liang, director of the Soy Products Research Institute of Zuming Soy Products Co., Ltd.
Good for health, but cannot completely replace animal meat
Ipsos "2020 Trends of Artificial Meat in China" shows that 86% of consumers have or will change their consumption habits of meat products due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, and 21% of them have gradually replaced animal meat products with other proteins And 47% of Chinese consumers are willing to choose plant-based meat in Chinese-style restaurants.
Why is the sales of plant meat rising rapidly?
Dr. Li Yongjing, President of DuPont Nutrition and Biotechnology Food and Beverage Business (Platform) Asia Pacific, said that the launch of plant meat is to meet the needs of consumers who want to enjoy food to ensure nutrition, but also worry about excessive calorie intake and harm their health.
Taking the global plant-based meat brand "Different Meat" as an example, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture website, every 100 grams of plant meat patties are rich in 17 grams of protein, and the saturated fat content is 26% lower than that of traditional beef mince. It has less overall fat and no trans fatty acids.
According to statistics, 50% of consumers said they would buy plant meat for "low fat", and 39% of consumers buy for "cholesterol-free".
According to the "Health Care Forecast Report 2020" issued by the internationally renowned consulting company Deloitte Consulting, there are 160-170 million people with hypertension in China, nearly 100 million people with hyperlipidemia, and 70-200 million people with overweight or obesity.
He Jiguo, director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of the Food College of China Agricultural University, said that the essential amino acids contained in soybeans are similar to meat and belong to high-quality protein.
There is a tradition of eating imitation meat and vegetarian food in my country, and the ham sausage made from soy protein is also very popular in the market.
Judging from the current nutritional intake of part of the public in my country, eating plant meat made from soy protein can reduce the intake of fats, which is beneficial to health.
However, Shen Lirong, a professor at the School of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science of Zhejiang University, also said that compared with animal meat, plant meat lacks nutrients such as vitamin B12, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, and zinc, so it is impossible to avoid animal meat completely. Plant meat can be used to replace part of animal meat to achieve the purpose of complementary and balanced nutrition.
Entering Chinese restaurants takes various forms and prices have to drop
In recent years, the number of domestic plant meat companies has increased rapidly, and the types of products have become increasingly abundant.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival last year, some merchants launched "artificial meat" moon cakes. This year's Dragon Boat Festival, Tmall launched artificial meat dumplings, with spiced beef flavor, dried plum vegetable pork belly, curry beef flavor, black pepper meatball flavor, sea duck egg pork belly flavor Wait.
On November 26, Yantai Shuangta Foods Co., Ltd. released a series of new pea protein vegetable meat products in Beijing, which mainly include beef balls, beef patties, pork patties, chicken nuggets, chicken chops, tenderloin and sausages.
Despite this, western restaurants and bars are still the most common places where plant meat appears, and plant meat is still relatively rare in Chinese restaurants.
Why is this?
Industry insiders pointed out that according to statistics, in the US vegetable meat market, the hamburger channel contributes more than 80% of sales, and hamburgers are the most frequently consumed product for most Americans.
However, my country's traditional meat consumption scenes are very diverse, such as hot pot, barbecue, stew, stir-fry, etc. Different consumption scenes require different product forms, and each product form has different requirements for meat quality.
Shabu-shabu requires thinness and must be able to withstand the shabu; barbecue requires flavor, fat, and withstands roasting; braised pork depends on the flavor and color, and must be chewy; stir-fried dishes must be tasty and blend with vegetables.
my country's abundant meat consumption scenes have higher requirements and expectations for plant meat. At present, it is difficult for plant meat to meet the needs of all consumption scenarios.
"In terms of product form, plant meat needs to produce more Chinese products instead of copying foreign hamburger products." Li Yongjing said.
In addition, price is still an important resistance to the promotion of plant meat.
Although in some restaurants and e-commerce platforms, the price of plant meat has fallen to the level of animal meat.
For example, the plant-based chicken burger launched by Dicos has a retail price of 20 yuan each and a member price of 15 yuan, which is not much different from the normal Dico burger price of 16-20 yuan each.
However, Hema Fresh’s “Different Meat Guest” vegetable protein beef patties sell for 59.9 yuan per box of 226 grams, while 300 grams of chilled fresh pork is only 29.9 yuan; Starbucks’ “Different” "Beef American Hot and Sour Roll", priced at 59 yuan, nearly 50% higher than the price of ordinary real meat rolls.
Li Yongjing said that plant meat products are more focused on consumers who care about healthy diet, love environmental protection, and have animal protection awareness. The consumer market is high-end and is not an economical product for the purpose of "saving money."
At present, the production cost of plant meat is still relatively high. If the positioning deviates, it will be difficult to popularize successfully.
The development momentum is strong, but standard setting and supervision need to be strengthened
According to forecasts, the global plant meat market will be about 12.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, and it is expected to grow at a compound growth rate of 15% every year, reaching 27.9 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
Wang Shouwei, director of the China Meat Research Center, said that the development momentum of the plant meat industry has begun to take shape in my country, but the existing regulations and standards are not compatible with product innovation and industry development. It is necessary to speed up the formulation of relevant standards and regulations to avoid The confusion of standards and regulatory gaps in the field of vegetable meat promote the sound development of the industry.
In the course of innovation and development, it is necessary to increase investment in science and technology to solve the remaining scientific and technological problems.
Plant meat provides the possibility to effectively guarantee the supply of meat for humans in the future, and it also provides consumers with more choices. In terms of popular science, consumers need to be guided to correctly understand and consume rationally.
In fact, the formulation of the national standard for plant meat has been launched in 2019, and the project will be officially approved in 2020, but it still needs to be approved, solicited opinions, and announced, so there is no timetable for it.
In addition, the China Plant Food Industry Alliance is also taking the lead in formulating the plant meat group logo.