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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

China’s five-year agricultural plan to include cultured meat

For the first time, China has included cultured meat and other future foods in its five-year agricultural plan, which aims to support its long-term development goals. The alternative-protein industry has welcomed China’s strategy to support food innovations in order to diversify its protein sources. Mirte Gosker, Acting MD of the Asia-Pacific arm of the Good Food Institute, says, “By including game-changing food technologies like cultured meat, [China’s] national leaders are saying publicly what others around the world have long hoped: that China intends to go all-in on building the future of food.”

China’s commitment to strengthening innovation in “frontier and cross-disciplinary technologies” stems from both climate and food-security concerns. With mounting international pressure to take more ambitious actions, China has committed to a carbon-emissions peak around 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. China’s livestock industry accounts for 29% of the country’s direct and indirect agricultural emissions, according to official figures released in 2014. Given the adverse environmental impact of animal agriculture, it’s time China transitioned to more sustainable food production by shifting towards new protein sources that are more climate-friendly and less resource-intensive than animal protein. Food security is also a huge concern for China. With 1.4 billion people to feed, their current patterns of food consumption need to change drastically. 

Cultured meat continues to face several obstacles to entering the consumer market, including regulatory barriers and a lack of large-scale development and distribution. Singapore is currently the only country in which cultured meat has been officially approved for sale. China’s inclusion of cultured meat and other future foods in its blueprint for food security will spur more funding for research in the sector and accelerate the regulatory timeline in the country. 

Consumer acceptance is also another crucial factor affecting the future penetration of cultured meat in the mainstream market. Given that plant-based alternatives have not been embraced in China as much as in the West, the question of how Chinese consumers[1] will take to cultured meat is an important one. Surprisingly, about 90% of Chinese consumers said that they would be open to trying cultured meat – and it seems that discerning palates will be satisfied. Cultured-meat brand SuperMeat recently held a blind tasting in which a foodie expert mistook cultured meat for real chicken, saying that the former was tastier. As food tech advances with more private investments and public funding, it shouldn’t be too long before healthier and more climate-friendly and nutritious protein sources become mainstream.


What can you do?

While you wait for future foods to arrive on supermarket shelves, you can already easily cut your food-related emissions by up to 50% today by embracing a plant-centred diet. Take the Diet Change Not Climate Change pledge now!

References

References
1 Protein Report. (2022): Study finds 90% of Chinese consumers would eat cell-cultivated “customized meat,” 30% would make it their main protein purchase if parity is reached. Available at: https://www.proteinreport.org/newswire/study-finds-90-chinese-consumers-would-eat-cell-cultivated-customized-meat-30-would-make.

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