With the continuous growth of the global population, it has become increasingly difficult to produce enough meat to satisfy global demands. Moreover, animal agriculture and meat processing also damage the environment.
Therefore, 100 % plant-based meats that look and taste exactly like real meat has begun to emerge.
How big is the market for plant-based meats? It is reported that 4% of the world’s population are vegetarians, and this number is on the rise. According to the Vegetarian Association, the U.S. plant-based meat market in 2016 was worth $5 billion and contributed $13.7 billion in sales to the U.S. economy. This is only the U.S. data. The plant-based meat industries in the UK, France, Germany, and other countries are also developing rapidly.
We learned that the research and development of plant-based protein products and their producers, including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have received tremendous financial support, and the number of new companies is also increasing. But these companies place more focus on replacing normal meat products.
Sophie’s Kitchen, which has recently drawn attention from 36Kr, expressed interest in another vertical market for plant-based meats — plant-based seafood, which uses vegan raw materials to mimic the taste, smell, and nutrition of seafood.
Yaoxin Wang, the founder of Sophie’s Kitchen, told the reporter from 36Kr that he chose to enter the seafood market because many people from all over the world are allergic to seafood, and the demand is relatively strong.
According to an epidemiological survey, the number of people allergic to seafood products in the United States has reached 6.9 million, accounting for 2.3% of its total population. The epidemiological survey of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incident rate of food allergies in Chinese adults is as high as 6%. The survey identified the major allergens as seafood products and eggs. In addition, the seafood meat structure is more difficult to imitate and has certain technical thresholds.
Sophie’s Kitchen focuses on the imitation of seafood meat structure. This technology is relatively mature. The raw material it uses to substitute fish meat is pea protein powder, and the raw material for substituting soft shell seafood is konjac and seaweed powder. Wang told 36 Kr that they applied for a number of patents for the processing technology. The production process of soft shell seafood substitutes completely differs from the production process of fish substitutes. After completing the imitation of the fleshy structure, Sophie’s Kitchen will optimize taste and nutrients in the next step.
Sophie’s Kitchen’s products are processed in a factory in Taiwan, with a capacity of about 10 tons per month, mainly producing seafood and plant-based meat products. Its products have successfully entered more than 1,000 European and American supermarkets through vendors, with an annual revenue of about 1 million USD.
Wang told 36 Kr that although their products generate high profits, Sophie’s Kitchen is still limited by the scale of its business and is looking for U.S. investments to finance its expansion. He hopes to increase its number of product carriers to 2,000 and generate a profit of 2 million USD in 2018.
Unlike other plant-based seafood producers who target the restaurant industry, Sophie’s Kitchen mainly sells products through supermarkets.
The Sophie’s Kitchen team currently consists of four people. Its CEO Yaoxin Wang has an MBA from the Columbia Business School, as well as over 20 years of experience in plant-based manufacturing.
All information and photos come from Jiuchisu：https://www.jiuchisu.com/NeWs/17447.htm
Translated by Jiajia Han and Sherry Yao, and edited by Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue