China’s GEN Z will power plant-based and cultivated food transformation, survey finds

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A survey conducted by global food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has found that China’s GEN Z is very open to eating plant-based foods and cultivated meat.

Nearly 20% of survey respondents are already “flexitarian” when it comes to their diets, meaning that they are actively replacing meat on their plates every week with plant-based alternatives.

The survey results will be welcome news for alternative protein producers because GEN Z in China amounts to 264 million people, a part of the population that is already buying 40% of the country’s new products. Their purchasing influence is expected to increase as GEN Z grows to become the main consumer force on the Chinese market over the next ten years.

More about the survey results

The survey was carried out among 1,024 people aged 19-28 with a college education who live in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Asked about their dietary preferences, the survey found that 19.3% of respondents are flexitarian (consume plant-based foods/meals a few times a week), 79.1% are omnivores, 1.0% are vegetarian (consume eggs and milk) and 0.6% are vegan (do not consume any animal products).

A total of 65% of respondents said they knew about plant-based meat and 20% of consumers said they were willing to purchase cultivated meat once it received market approval.

“It is fantastic to learn that so many young people in China are not only aware of plant-based foods but are also consciously choosing to reduce their meat consumption,” Sebastian Joy, President of ProVeg International, said.

“Whilst cultivated meat is very much on the horizon for many countries, it is good to see that many Chinese people are aware of it and are willing to try it out when it becomes available,” Joy said.

Both cultivated meat and plant-based food have been identified by the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as playing important roles in a climate-friendly food system and clearly many Chinese people will be playing their part here as well.

Other findings from the report include the following:

A total of 31.6% of consumers are willing to purchase plant-based meat. ProVeg notes that more market education of consumers can improve their familiarity with plant-based meat, thereby increasing their preference for it, and expanding the purchasing population.

There is greater market potential in Beijing and Shanghai and female and highly educated individuals are more willing to purchase plant-based meat.

20.4% of consumers are willing to purchase cultivated meat, which is higher than the proportion of consumers who know about cultured meat (18%), indicating that the market has greater potential to accept cultivated meat.

The optimal price range for plant-based meat is between RMB 17.9 and 30.5 yuan, and the optimal price is RMB 22.1/500 g.

55.3% of consumers believe that the price of cultivated meat will not be lower than that of pork, while 44.7% believe that it will be cheaper than conventional pork.

The optimal price range for cultivated meat is between RMB 19.1 and 31.4 yuan, and the optimal price is RMB 22.5/500 g, which is slightly higher than that of plant-based meat.

“It is really exciting times for both plant-based meat companies and those developing cultivated foods in our country, with China holding much promise as a reliable market in which to launch new products and experience strong sales growth,” Shirley Lu, Managing Director for Asia and Chief China Representative for ProVeg, said.

The benefits of a plant-rich diet

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from animal agriculture are twice those from plant-based diets, so plant-rich diets are part of the solution to tackling climate change.

Worldwide, meat and dairy only provides just 18% of calories consumed, but uses 83% of global farmland so plant-based diets can address this imbalance.

Last year, a study from Bonn University stated that rich countries will need to reduce their meat consumption by up to 75% to meet international climate targets and avoid ecosystem collapse.

Reducing resource-intensive meat production will help us to feed the 10 billion people expected to be living on our planet in the year 2050.

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