China Food

The plant meat in the long night needs an explosive

vegetable meat needs a burst product too much.

In the new consumption wave in recent two years, vegetable meat may be the most unique category: different from the general model of micro innovation in mature supply chain and existing product forms, such as snacks and cosmetics, and relying on money burning and advertising to establish new brands, vegetable meat has higher technical content and greater imagination space, and is still a product with low acceptance in the domestic market, Even widely misunderstood niche categories.
The capital market once placed high hopes on plant meat. Well-known institutions such as longitude and latitude, pleasure and Tiantu have made relevant layout. Recently, they expect domestic start-ups to run out of China’s beyond meat (the first share of American plant meat) and try to change the diet structure of all mankind.
But the market and consumers do not seem to be able to pay for such feelings. As the upsurge of new consumption gradually recedes after the second half of this year, it is also time for us to rethink the plight and future of plant meat, and what new trends have the players in this track brought to the industry.
Why plant meat?
First, we should have a simple understanding of plant meat.
Since mankind entered the industrial society, standardization and mass production have always been the core of the manufacturing industry. The bagged snacks we buy in supermarkets and hamburgers in restaurants are essentially the end products of the food industry. However, as an indispensable part of the table, meat has various internal or external defects. Therefore, human beings have been looking for a healthier, more environmental friendly and more controllable meat production mode, and the concept of alternative protein also came into being.
At present, there are two main solutions to replace proteins. One is cell meat. The principle is to extract stem cells from animals for culture, proliferation and differentiation, and then use synthetic biotechnology to turn them into tissue to form meat. However, at present, this kind of technology is not mature enough, the cost is too high and can not be produced on a large scale. Therefore, at present, the industry mainly adopts the latter plant meat solution, that is, extracting plant protein from plants such as soybean and pea, and then making plant protein into plant meat that can simulate the taste and even flavor of real meat through relevant technologies. By the way, plant meat is very different from China’s traditional vegetarian meat. Although plants are used as raw materials, the process level of plant meat is higher, and the taste and flavor of finished products are also very different.
Plant meat is popular in China, and its valuation logic is also supported by its three advantages over animal meat:
First, it is healthier and safer. Plant meat is directly derived from plants, which will not cause people to worry about hormones and diseases. Moreover, plant meat has 0 cholesterol and lower fat content than animal meat, so it is more conducive to weight loss in theory.
Second, it is more efficient and environmentally friendly. Many people don’t realize that the way humans grow grain to raise poultry and livestock, and then obtain protein from the latter is actually very inefficient. There are layers of energy loss in the middle, and the breeding industry occupies more land resources, which will also produce a lot of carbon emissions and water and soil pollution. Skipping animals and directly obtaining protein from plants is more efficient, consuming resources and generating less pollution, which is just in line with the long-term national policy of environmental protection and carbon neutralization.
Third, it is more stable and controllable. Affected by common animal diseases such as avian influenza and classical swine fever, the output of animal husbandry is unstable and often accompanied by a wide range of risks, while the production of plant meat is more safe and controllable, which is conducive to ensuring market stability and national food security.
Despite the various advantages of vegetable meat, the feedback from the market and consumers is not as good as expected. Whether local start-ups or international food giants enter the market, the road of pioneering has been frequently blocked.
For example, at the end of last year, Zhuo meat maker, a vegetable meat brand of Unilever, jointly launched “real flavor plant base imperial Castle” with Burger King to form a package with zero coke, but the sales volume was far lower than expected. In April, there were only 3 AUDs (average daily per store), accounting for less than 2% of all burger sales of Burger King, and then it was forced to go offline in less than a quarter.
Landing in China and entering the C-end
The reasons why the development of vegetable meat in the domestic market is blocked are diverse and complex. First, the market is in the early stage. Many consumers have not heard of vegetable meat, or misunderstood it, saying that it is “unnatural and unhealthy” and “is it not vegetarian meat to change its name”. Even if they have heard and agree with vegetable meat, it is difficult to buy it due to channel factors.
However, the difficulties in promotion are not enough. After all, as long as the products can finally be recognized by consumers, the problem of market development can be solved in the long run. At present, the biggest pain point of the plant meat industry in China lies in its inadaptability to the local market, that is, the level of localization is not high enough.
For a long time, when doing industry research, investors like to judge their possible achievements in another market through the performance of one track in one market, such as sun Zhengyi’s “time machine” theory. The rationality of this analysis logic is that it captures the commonness of the human market, that is, since group A has some needs, group B also probably exists, but this theory may fail when encountering some industries with cultural differences.
In the meat market of European and American countries, substitute meat products have a high share, and also run out of industrial unicorns with a value of nearly 10 billion cities (estimated) such as beyond meat and impossible food. However, if we think that the domestic market can reach a similar level, It is the same as “selling milk tea to the United States and coffee to China”. It seems reasonable, but there is a big gap of rough logic.
In European and American countries, meat has the attribute of “industrial products”. It is a very natural behavior for consumers to buy cut and packaged frozen meat in the supermarket freezer. The cooking method is also relatively simple. Generally, it is mainly roasted and fried. However, the domestic situation is very different. Chinese consumers have a high pursuit of “freshness”, and often prefer to buy fresh meat rather than frozen meat. In some areas, their obsession with the freshness of meat has reached the extreme. For example, Chaoshan beef hotpot pays attention to killing, cooking and eating live cattle, and the beef is even beating when it is brought to the table. However, if plant meat products are sold as food materials, they can only appear in the form of frozen meat cakes and minced meat, which is difficult to meet the demand for fresh meat in Chinese food.
At the same time, the extremely exquisite and complex cooking methods of Chinese food also mean high requirements for ingredients: steaming, boiling, frying, frying, boring, frying, stewing and roasting. Each cooking method corresponds to different forms of ingredients. Some dishes pay more attention to stimulating the greatest delicacy of ingredients in subtle cooking moments, and fresh meat can present different flavors in different cooking times and ways Different tastes and no flavor can only be made up by adding spices in the later stage, and the plant meat that has poor taste and is not resistant to chewing is far from the requirements of Chinese food, and it is difficult to compete with real meat on the Chinese table in the foreseeable future.
For this reason, the development of domestic plant meat enterprises often starts with b-end, and the current market is still dominated by b-end. For example, the start-up company with the largest financing of the track in China cooperated with more than 100 brands such as Xicha, Ruixing, Tim Hortons and Dexter to launch plant meat related products on Saturday. They once explained that they had been dominated by b-end: the characteristics of plant meat determine their restrictions on cooking methods, If consumers find it is far from expected after purchasing vegetable meat products and cooking at home, they may not buy vegetable meat completely in the future. In contrast, the introduction of standardized products at the b-end can better ensure quality control. In the early stage when the market is not opened, start-ups can really rely on the mature channels of partners to contact a large number of consumers, which can not only quickly verify the market recognition of products, but also get relatively stable orders.
However, since the beginning of this year, players on the track have begun to layout the C-end, improve the product matrix, establish their own channels, and have direct contact with consumers, and the products reflect obvious Chinese characteristics. For example, Nestle’s Jiazhi cuisine has launched a vegetarian version of four famous traditional Chinese dishes: Braised lion head, braised meat, spicy pot and kung pao chicken; Plant love life has launched plant meat stewed rice at room temperature, plant meat spring rolls, dumplings and steamed stuffed buns; The layout at the C-end of the week is slower, but this year, it also launched the “flower zero sense package” of plant meat steamed stuffed bun, the “one mouthful of plant shredded meat” of normal temperature snacks, the music shake cup and the plant protein bar for fitness people.
Players have launched the C-end one after another. Perhaps the purpose is to quickly establish a brand through the C-end products and marketing strategy in the early stage of the market, occupy the minds of consumers, and accumulate greater potential energy for subsequent competition. After all, when the popularity of plant meat is not high, who can establish the consumer cognition of “I am equal to high-quality plant meat”, who can take the lead in the subsequent competition.
It is worth mentioning that the two forms of C-terminal plant meat products also mean two dilemmas. One is frozen products that need secondary cooking, such as “Huahua zero sense package” and “plant meat dumplings”. Frozen products have high requirements for logistics and preservation. The additional cold chain logistics cost makes the price of plant meat products that are more expensive than real meat remain high, which has a great negative impact on the sales volume; The other is normal temperature food, such as “one mouthful of plant shredded meat” and protein bar on Sunday. However, the common fresh-keeping solution of food at normal temperature is high temperature killing, which is easy to destroy the plant meat. There are not many flavor substances, affecting the taste of the product.
Technology or marketing?
Should consumer goods be deeply cultivated in technology and products, or spend money on marketing and market orientation? I believe that any investor and entrepreneur will tell you that it is the former at the industry conference with his legs crossed and his face full of piety and faith, saying that “traffic marketing online red products are empty, the water is very deep, and you can’t grasp it. The long-term barriers of enterprises still have to rely on down-to-earth technology to make products, and consumers will pay for the products”.
However, for the current domestic plant meat industry, this is undoubtedly a “not necessarily correct but certainly useless nonsense”. This track is too early, and the market is far from being opened. Most consumers have not heard of it and do not understand it, and most of the few who have heard of it are skeptical. Moreover, the technical level of domestic players is not far behind, so it is difficult to open the gap of barrier level, which is its dilemma in the domestic market. Unlike other categories that are well known and trusted by the market, such as sugar free soda, instant noodles, cosmetics and skin care products, enterprises only need to find ways to do well in products and marketing and defeat competitors; The players of plant meat shoulder the two arduous tasks of developing the market and surpassing their opponents at the same time.
“Plant meat needs an explosive product too much”, which is the common understanding of entrepreneurs and investors. Only when there is a popular product that makes consumers realize that “there is still plant meat” and “the original plant meat can be so delicious”, can the cake of this track be really bigger.
Explosive products are not that easy to do. In order to make explosive products, players spend resources and money to show their magic powers, and even pay a certain price. In the long run, the investment logic and comparative advantage of plant meat are still tenable, and plant meat may really be the future. But how long will this future come, what hardships will the industry experience and solve before coming, and how many enterprises will fall in the long night or even before dawn? Only time can give these answers. There is nothing wrong with “products are the king”, but in this special track, living must be the top priority. In other words, in the three support points of products, marketing and technology, it may be a more pragmatic way to concentrate resources on a single breakthrough to take the lead in opening up the situation according to the development stage of enterprises and industries.





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