Dao Foods, a cross-border impact investment venture helping bring sustainable protein to China has recently partnered with early stage venture capital fund New Crop Capital to launch a new incubator project for plant-based startups. The incubator is now calling for entrepreneurs to apply for the program, which will offer financial support, mentorship opportunities and development workshops over a 6-month period.
While China is home to a fifth of the global population, it only has 7% of the world’s cultivated land, which will mean it will struggle to cope with the increasing demand for protein. Dao Foods hopes to disrupt the existing food system – namely unsustainable animal agriculture – by helping to introduce less resource-intensive and carbon-friendly alternative proteins to China.
Partnering with New Crop Capital, an early investor of Silicon Valley food tech Beyond Meat and over 30 other leading food techs globally, Dao Foods has launched a new incubator targeting plant-based startups and entrepreneurs. 5 plant-based food companies will be chosen for each cycle of the incubator.
Startups accepted into the bootcamp will undergo a 6-month program that gives them access to its network of local and foreign mentors, industry expertise, customised courses and workshops on several days each month. The incubator will additionally offer financial support of up to 500,000 RMB (US$70,600).
Commenting on the launch, co-founder of Dao Foods Albert Tseng told Green Queen that it will “provide catalytic capital and support to plant-based food companies,” adding that “our goal is to get behind entrepreneurs who will ‘set the table’ with delicious and sustainable options for consumers.”
The launch of the incubator comes as China has begun to relax its Covid-19 restrictions, with many parts of the country beginning to resume daily activities. Tseng added that while China’s food industry has undoubtedly taken a hit from the pandemic, he believes that it has woken people up to the health, safety and environmental impact of the animal industry and that consumers are now more likely to opt for alternative proteins.
In a separate interview with Green Queen, David Yeung, the founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Green Monday said that he is convinced that the pandemic and overlapping livestock diseases such as African swine fever (ASF), avian flu and the latest Div1 shrimp virus will accelerate consumer appetite for vegan foods.
Already, given the calls from scientists to dramatically cut the consumption of meat and dairy to combat the climate crisis, a number of regional food techs have begun offering groundbreaking plant-based and cultivated protein solutions. In a recent industry report, the authors emphasised that Asian food techs hold multiple advantages over foreign companies to disrupt the food economy in the continent, including offering affordable products that suit local tastes and cuisines.
Over the past weeks, the plant-based market in China has seen notable growth. While Starbucks launched an all-new plant-based menu with Beyond Meat, Omnipork and Oatly across its China locations, KFC joined hands with Cargill to bring plant-based fried chicken to select chains in the country. Meanwhile, Dao Foods-backed homegrown vegetarian startup Starfield partnered with 6 major restaurants to roll out plant-based dishes across hundreds of outlets.
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