According to China Plant-based Protein Topical Report from The NPD Group, plant-based proteins are gaining acceptance in China as Chinese consumers seek more protein in their diets, and plant-based foods become more available and appealing. Although plant-based protein currently has a small serving share compared to meat proteins in China, awareness has reached 90%; and the retention rate for plant-based proteins is on the rise, increasing from 53% in October 2020, to 68% in January 2021.
“There is no doubt that consumers in China view plant-based proteins as healthier alternatives to traditional meat protein,” said Gimantha Jayasinghe, Senior Vice President of APAC Foodservice at The NPD Group. “Though these products have a long way to go in terms of share against their meat counterparts, they are gaining acceptance and retention among consumers. This presents tremendous opportunities for manufacturers as consumers continue to look for healthy alternatives to meat.”
At over 70%, independent restaurants led share growth of plant-based proteins in China. The percentage of plant-based proteins served in FSR reached 52%, followed by 31% in QSR, and 12% in Leisure. Consumers in China were willing to try varied plant-based food types, including restaurant dishes, plant-based snack, ingredients for cooking, and prepackaged plant-based foods. The trial rate of restaurant dishes and plant-based snacks were the highest at 60%.
Animal Protein Consumption in China
There were around 40% incidence rate for overall protein products in China’s foodservice market in 2020. Chicken accounted for over 30% of market share and led the growth among all proteins, followed by beef and pork.
Beef and chicken were inclined to be consumed in smaller (1 person) households, and pork was inclined to be consumed in larger (2+ persons) households.
The Chinese Consumer’s Perception of Plant-based Protein
According to NPD, 57% of Chinese consumers get plant-based protein information from domestic news sources, and 48% learned about plant-based protein from social media sites like Tiktok, and Kuaishou. Advertising also played a significant role on Chinese consumer perception and acceptance of plant-based protein in 2020, with 41% agreeing that ads focusing on health and wellness was a driving factor in their acceptance of these foods. (Source: NPD Group)