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Impossible Foods may be gaining territory, both geographically and market-wise, here in the U.S. But when it comes to the future regions, the startup has its gaze set on Asia — specifically, China.
You can read the full explanation of why Impossible is eyeing China in our post, but it boils down to three main reasons:
- China has the largest population in the world
- China produces the most meat in the world
- China consumes the most meat in the world, and its hunger for protein is growing
In short, China is the holy grail for any alternative meat company. That’s especially true with the recent African Swine Fever outbreak, which threatens to massively deplete pig populations and drive up pork prices.
Which plant-based meat company will get to world’s most populated country first? Impossible is certainly in the running, as is Beyond Meat. And Asian plant-based meat company Omnipork, which has the advantage of selling a product developed specifically for Asian palates, has said it will start selling in China by the end of this year.
Big Food could also make a move. China-based WH Group, the largest pork company in the world, owns Smithfield. In August Smithfield announced it would be launching a “plant-based protein portfolio.” If WH Group decides to sell a new alt-meat line in China, either under the Smithfield brand or another one, the company’s massive supply chain and retail partnerships could help it quickly scale up across the country.
Then again, it could be time for China to embrace a lower-tech meat alternative. With all these newfangled, bleeding, uber-realistic faux meat options out there, it’s easy to forget that China has actually been making its own meat alternatives for centuries to adhere to Buddhist diets.
Ten years from now, we’ll likely see a mixture of all of the above in China. The country’s appetite for protein is immense and it’ll take multiple plant-based meat players to feed. Let’s just hope that if and when Impossible does land in China, they’re prepared for the inevitable demand.
Eclipse Foods is (soft) serving up plant-based ice cream
If you want to know what’s cool right now in the food world, a good place to look is ice cream. A few months ago Berkeley, CA-based Perfect Day launched their flora-based dairy with an initial line of ‘screams (which were delicious, btw). Now, Eclipse Foods, a plant-based dairy company based literally down the road from Perfect Day, is following in their footsteps.
This weekend Eclipse Foods is debuting its proprietary plant-based dairy recipe in limited-edition flavors at high-end ice cream shops on opposite coasts: Humphrey Slocombe in San Francisco and Oddfellows in New York (thanks for the tip, Grubhub).
Unlike Perfect Day, which ferments actual dairy proteins using genetically modified microbes, Eclipse’s dairy is made from a combination of everyday plant-based ingredients that the founders claim do a much better job imitating dairy than plain old oat or almond milk. Their product is also free from nuts, coconut, soy, and other allergens.
I had the chance to try soft serve made with Eclipse Foods’ dairy during the Good Food Conference this year and thought it was overall quite good. While the flavor was almost there — it was a bit too salty and lacked the pure neutral fattiness of dairy — the texture was spot on. The soft serve was smooth and super creamy, without the iciness that often comes with plant-based ice cream.
The flavor issue might be irrelevant for now, since I’m not sure exactly how much people will actually taste Eclipse’s dairy base underneath the bold flavors of Oddfellow’s Miso Cherry and Humphrey Slocombe’s Mexican Hot Chocolate.
Given this initial partnership, Eclipse seems to be following the Impossible sales model, starting out with high-end B2B partnerships. Impossible debuted at David Chang’s lauded Momofuku restaurant, which instantly rocketed the product to fame. Eclipse is launching with two similarly trendy brands, ones known to attract droves of Instagram-ing hipsters who can start some buzz around the new brand.
This launch will be a test to see if Eclipse can follow Impossible in other ways. Can it reinvent the plant-based dairy space like Impossible reinvented plant-based meat? Or will it just be the flavor of the month?
Protein ’round the web
- Nestlé is partnering with food and biochemical company Corbion to develop microalgae ingredients for use in plant-based foods.
- Starting this week, Chicago-based Giordano’s is offering plant-based sausage from Impossible Foods as an add-on topping fo all of its orders nationwide.
- Speaking of Impossible, taqueria chain Dos Toros is offering Impossible beef in all 21 of its NYC and Chicago locations.
- Mooala, maker of dairy-free milks and creamers, announced it has closed a $8.3 million Series A funding round.
That’s it from me this week.