Hong Kong startup Good Food Technologies has unveiled its first consumer-facing plant-based brand, Plant Sifu. Offering meat-free alternatives to conventional dumplings and pork, the company aims to undermine Asia’s demand for animal protein. Developed using proprietary fat technology, Plant Sifu’s pork analogue is cited as juicy and fragrant, making it appropriate for dumpling applications.
Last month, Good Food closed an oversubscribed HK$12 million seed round to further scale R&D and expand into mainland China. Launching a pork and dumpling-focused brand will give the company fast access to new markets, especially those in east Asia, where dumplings are a culturally significant dish.
Dumplings as a plant-based driver
Dumplings are part of everyday life in Hong Kong. Served in restaurants and convenience stores, and found in almost every home freezer, they are a staple dish. Traditionally filled with a mix of vegetables and meat, with pork being the most popular, the dumpling industry is big business. Hong Kong’s frozen dim sum market was expected to reach HK$ 1.25 billion in 2021 (approx. US$ 159 million).
Despite high barriers to entry and well established dominant brands such as Amoy and Wanchai Ferry, which are sold in almost every supermarket and convenience store, Plant Sifu is poised to grab a healthy slice of that pie. A 2019 Green Monday survey showed that a quarter of Hong Kongers practice flexitarian eating and up to 70% were willing to consider eating less meat.
Good Food Tech wants to “feed the world” with products stemming from Chinese culture, but with a healthier twist. Plant Sifu focuses on dumplings, one of the most popular dishes throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Foodservice partners will be able to access Plant Sifu’s pork mince analogue as a standalone product.
The fat of the brand
At the centre of the Plant Sifu dumpling range is AROMAX, Good FoodTech’s proprietary fat technology. Using konjac encapsulation, it adds flavour and texture to non-GMO soy protein and recreates pork in a plant-based framework. The company says their meat is cholesterol-free, MSG-free, and contains less sodium, calories and fat per serving than conventional pork. All nine amino acids are present and only vegetables and yeast providing flavouring power.
“After extensive research with chefs, it was clear that pork fat and lard are quintessential ingredients in Chinese and Asian recipes,” Dr Andrew Leung, Good Food Tech’s co-founder said. “However, they come along with health hazards of high fat and high cholesterol commonly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, our team went on to invent AROMAX – using konjac gelatin structures locked with flavours and aromas to mimic fatty pork.”
Appealing to budgets and taste buds
The cost of plant-based foods remains a global stumbling block when it comes to consumer acceptance. Plant Sifu says it is focused on affordability. The brand is initially introducing three dumpling variations. Two are priced at HK$28.9 (approx. US$3.6) for 10 pieces, with the third, their Plant-based Pork Shaomai coming in at HK$25.9 (approx. US$3.3) for eight pieces. For comparison, competitor Green Monday’s OmniPork Siu Mai retails at HK$ 22.9 for four dumplings, while its OmniPork Pearl Dumplings are sold at HK$28.9 (approx. US$ 3.6) for six.
Later this month, Plant Sifu will partner with Hana Musubi to develop plant-based Japanese rice balls. From May, IKEA Hong Hong will serve the brand’s shiitake mushroom and plant-based pork dumplings.
All photos by Plant Sifu/Good Food Technologies.