When Stan Fong and Kenneth Chan realised the environmental and health impact of meat consumption, they decided to leave their corporate jobs and start a new journey that would help encourage more people to adopt a plant-based diet. But they soon found that there was one major obstacle – while meatless alternatives for Western-style dishes such as burgers and hot dogs were plenty, the duo felt that there remained a huge gap in the market when it came to plant-based meat options that cater to local Cantonese and traditional Chinese recipes. That’s when they created TN Meat, the newest homegrown plant-based startup who has just launched its first products on the Hong Kong market.
“We focus on creating 100% plant based meat that caters the taste of Chinese people,” Fong and Chan tells Green Queen. “We entered the plant-based meat industry at the end of last year, and began consulting food scientists based in Canada to launch our brand.”
Currently, TN Meat – a reference to its Chinese brand name that translates to “taste new” meat – has developed three vegan-friendly products: plant-based beef patties, ground beef crumbles and chicken nuggets. Made in their manufacturing facility in Taiwan, from 100% plant-based and GMO-free ingredients such as soy protein, pea protein, wheat and potato starch, TN Meat’s new products are free from cholesterol, trans fats and come at a fraction of the environmental footprint compared to conventional meat.
We focus on creating 100% plant based meat that caters the taste of Chinese people.Stan Fong & Kenneth Chan, Co-Founders of TN Meat
“Our products are suitable for both Western and Eastern cooking styles,” the duo explains, including Cantonese favourites like sweet and sour pork, minced beef lettuce wraps and Asian-style curries.
The three products have just launched on HKTVMall, a major e-commerce platform in the city, retailing for HK$99 per package. TN Meat is also in discussions with more retailers and distribution channels in the city, including foodservice, to expand its presence. The company is currently entirely self-funded.
“We’re also continuing to develop and enhance our product range, the next being vegan beef slices and vegan pork mince,” they added. To support their scale-up plans, TN Meat is planning to kickstart a seed fundraising round “very soon” ahead of their ambitions to launch next year in the mainland Chinese and Southeast Asian market, specifically in Singapore and Malaysia.
TN Meat’s launch comes at a time when plant-based interest has been at an all-time high globally, but has received a particularly strong show of support across Asian markets. While sustainability concerns have been steadily rising, the plant-based trend grew rapidly since the coronavirus pandemic, which spotlighted the food safety, security and health issues of the meat supply chain – top concerns amongst Asian consumers.
One recent poll in Hong Kong, commissioned by Green Monday, the group behind the famous plant-based pork brand OmniFoods, found that a quarter of the city’s young shoppers are now going to reduce their meat intake as a direct result of the pandemic.
The results also indicated that a record 34% of Hong Kong consumers – 2.5 million people – now identify as flexitarian eaters, meaning a predominantly plant-centric diet with only the occasional inclusion of conventional animal meat. Further evidence of the trend comes from the latest statistics Green Queen obtained from food delivery giant Deliveroo, which indicated a 100% increase in vegan orders in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, South Korea reported a tripling in its vegan population and Japan’s plant-based food scene has exploded with vegan konbini to 100% dairy and egg-free Japanese bakeries. Like its Asian neighbours, Thailand has also seen rapid growth in the number of restaurants rolling out meatless dishes, as well as the emergence of homegrown vegan food techs working on bringing accessible and affordable plant-based proteins to meet the demand.
All images courtesy of TN Meat.