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Is Impossible Pork Coming to China?

Yang Ge / Jan 09, 2020 01:49 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

U.S. artificial meat-maker Impossible Foods smells an opportunity in China’s challenged pork market. The fake meat sensation has just rolled out its latest product line, Impossible Pork, at a major high-tech trade show taking place this week in Las Vegas. Its arrival to the feast comes as China grapples with an outbreak of African swine fever that’s dragged on for more than a year and sent prices skyrocketing in the world’s top pork-consuming market.

Pork is the world’s most popular meat, and that’s largely due to huge appetite from China. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says global pork consumption reached 112 million tons in 2018, ahead of 94 million tons for chicken and 60 million tons for beef. China accounted for nearly half of that pork figure, and the country’s own statistics show that pork made up 63% of consumption among four major meat types in 2018.

Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown told a media briefing that his new fake pork product should give his company a major leg-up in its drive into China. As part of that effort, he and his company were showing off a range of Chinese classics made with Impossible Pork, including fake pork-filled steamed dumplings and pork-topped spicy “dandan” noodles.

Brown said Impossible Foods is already talking with Chinese regulators and potential business partners about localizing some production in a bid to tap local appetites. One of the biggest obstacles is regulation, since Impossible Foods’ products contain genetically modified products that China has been reluctant to allow inside its borders.

In a major move on that front, China’s Agriculture Ministry has recently indicated it is set to award safety certificates for genetically modified corn for the first time in a decade, paving the way for domestic commercial production.

Even if it ultimately gets the green light, Impossible Foods won’t be the first to supply fake pork to China. Last November, a product called Omnipork went on sale on Alibaba’s popular Tmall, made by a Hong Kong-based company. The product also became available in some high-end restaurants in major Chinese cities. Omnipork is made from soy beans, peas, mushrooms and rice, though none are genetically modified.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com; Twitter: @youngchinabiz)

Related: China to Give Safety Approval for Domestic Genetically Modified Corn

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