Sustainable Protein for China: Incubating Next Generation Good Food Entrepreneurship
Catalyzing sustainable plant-based protein innovation in China through incubating the scale up of Next Gen Good Food entrepreneurs.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Dao Foods International, Inc.
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
China is the largest consumer market in the world with rapidly rising incomes and increasing meat consumption, which if left unaddressed will lead to growing negative environmental, food safety and health impact. Dao Foods believes that supporting talented entrepreneurs who are targeting the 400m millennials in China with new, exciting, and delicious plant based proteins could have massive environmental and social impact.
Dao Foods plans to catalyze innovation in China by connecting existing expertise, experience, and know-how from US and Europe with entrepreneurs and food industry in China. Our founding partners at New Crop Capital (invested in 30+ alternative protein companies) and Good Food Institute have this expertise from working with hundreds of plant-based meat and alternative protein companies and have committed significant resources and funds to Dao Foods efforts in China. In China, Dao Foods will be leveraging the networks and experience of Dao Ventures, who have supported more than 1,000 Chinese and international SMEs and made and facilitated over US$200M in impact investments in China.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
With its many cities, regions, and varied demographics, China is not a homogeneous market. Core to Dao Foods strategy is a focus on millennials born after 1980, a population exceeding 400 Million, approximately 30% of China’s total population. We believe that this population is the most willing to try and accept new food products. The characteristics of this population are similar in some ways to their counterparts in the US and Europe, but different in many ways as well. For example, this population is increasingly urban and live fast-paced career oriented lifestyles which means that they are not cooking and are instead eating out and ordering in. Transaction volume for online food delivery is rising by approximately 10B RMB (approximately $US 1.46B) each quarter in 2017, driven predominantly by the white collar business segment.
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
In China, with a population greater than 4 times the US, incomes are rising and as such meat consumption is rising as well. In 1980s, when the population was still under one billion, the average Chinese person ate around 30 pounds of meat per year. Today, with an additional 380 million people, it’s nearly 140 pounds (the average in the US is over 220 pounds a year). China consumes 28 percent of the world’s meat—twice as much as the United States. Given the sheer population size in China, even small increases in individual meat intake will lead to outsized climate and environmental consequences worldwide
To meet the exploding demand for meat within its large consumer market, China is not only producing more meat but also importing more meat from other countries (as well as billions of bushels of soybeans each year mainly for livestock feed - https://www.fastcompany.com/90240606/chinas-hunger-for-soybeans-is-a-window-into-an-encroaching-environmental-crisis). The problems of this increased industrial animal agriculture will not only impact China, but also the entire planet. Therefore, any solution to our global problems related to animal agriculture must involve China as a central part of the strategy.
An exciting new breed of companies such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Vegetarian Butcher are creating new plant-based products that are competing with meat on taste, price and convenience, letting consumers know that switching to a plant-based diet does not require sacrifice. Increasingly, consumers in the US and Europe are beginning to understand that there are many problems with a meat centric diet, whether that be from a health, environmental, or animal rights perspective, and these new products will make the transition to flexitarian or vegan diets much easier for mainstream consumers.
However, this movement has not yet been socialized in China with either consumers or food producers. THE CHALLENGE: As China's middle income population continues to grow, how do we ensure that we can meet the increased demand for protein in a more sustainable way than traditional resource intensive animal agriculture.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Entrepreneurs and food innovators are urgently required in China to create sustainable food products that meet the needs and aspirations of the growing middle class.
For early stage plant-based entrepreneurs to succeed, they require mentorship and support in many areas, including business strategy, branding/marketing, manufacturing, and distribution. With our proposed incubator with its blended finance approach to engaging catalytic funders and investors, Dao Foods will assist entrepreneurs through leveraging its extensive network of mentors in all these specialized areas. Mentors in China understand the market, while mentors in the US and Europe have had experience in the plant-based market development overseas and can share their insight in food science, manufacturing, and distribution techniques.
We believe that although there is a lot to learn from US and European plant-based food companies, marketing and distributing new food products in China will require dramatically different strategies given the different context surrounding this millennial population. As such, Dao Foods is particularly attracted to working with young entrepreneurs and partners that are very in tune with marketing and selling to this target population.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
As much research has shown, industrial animal agriculture is a major contributor to many global environmental risks including the major planetary boundaries of climate change, biodiversity, nitrogen cycle, freshwater use, etc. For all these reasons and many more, the UN Environment Program recently deemed the industrial production of meat as “the world’s most urgent problem”. A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry, which is more than the emissions attributable to the entirety transportation sector. Agricultural emissions are only going to increase as rising incomes and urbanization drive a global dietary transition towards increased consumption of meat and dairy products.
A large portion of this increased demand will come from China, which will only add to the many environmental challenges facing China including pollution, water scarcity, and climate. In addition, the problems of this increased industrial animal agriculture will not only impact China, but also the entire planet, particularly due to animal agriculture's impact on climate change. Therefore, any solution to our global problems related to animal agriculture must involve China as a central part of the strategy.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
The attached video is from the Pop Plant-based Food Festival which we co-hosted in Beijing's Art District to challenge the association of plant-based food from old Buddhists to young, hip, environmentally conscious and health seeking millennials. The event featured millennial targeted activities such as an outdoor “Sweaty Fit Fest” fitness park (CrossFit, Zumba, Boxing, etc.), a skateboard park, and 4 DJs (one from Egypt, one from Portugal, and two from China). The event attracted an estimated 10,000 people where they were able to try products from 60+ plant-based vendors in a fun and engaging environment.
Dao Foods believes that supporting entrepreneurs who provide good tasting, fun and healthy plant-based foods can change perceptions in China and ultimately result in an entire plant-based food industry that will lessen the consumer demand for highly resource intensive animal protein products.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?