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Starfield Food and Science Technology Limited, a Chinese startup developing alternative proteins has recently announced completion of an angel funding round from early stage food tech investment firm New Crop Capital and China-focused impact investor Dao Foods International. Starfield is considered the only “2.0” alternative meat venture that operates its own R&D and manufacturing facility, and has already collaborated with a number of restaurant outlets to offer vegan meat dishes to customers.
Leading Starfield’s most recent angel investment round included New Crop Capital (NCC), Dao Foods and Matrix Partners China, a leading Chinese venture capital firm that has previously invested in major Chinese food delivery platform Ele.me. In an additional round following angel funding from NCC, Dao Foods and Matrix, Starfield also drew in investment from Joy Capital, another established venture capital firm.
Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Shenzhen, China, Starfield is a next-generation food tech that has created a ground meat product using seaweed protein. Developed in partnership with Beijing Technology & Business University, Shenzhen University and Jiangnan University, Starfield’s product has launched at a number of foodservice outlets, including restaurant chains Papa Johns, Nayuki Tea and Element Fresh. The startup was recently featured in Green Queen’s Asia Alternative Protein Industry Report 2020, the most comprehensive dive into the region’s plant-based, cultivated and whole food meat innovation to date.
Commenting on the decision to back Starfield, co-founder of Dao Foods Albert Tseng said that their firm has “been on the lookout for promising companies and entrepreneurs that both understand the taste buds of millennial consumers, and have the skills to develop and continuously improve products to meet this discerning taste.”
“We are incredibly excited about this investment in Starfield, our first in China…We believe there is great potential to accelerate the adoption of plant-based meats throughout the region,” added chief investment officer of New Crop Capital Chris Kerr.
Starfield hopes to be able to kickstart the next phase of growth for the company, particularly amid the current coronavirus pandemic, which has renewed calls for stricter oversight of the health and safety of the animal industry in China and globally. Recent scientific research finding a link between pangolins as the intermediary host of the virus has in particular underlined the dangers of the illegal wild animal trade and the broader live animal trade.
In addition to the boosted interest in plant-based meat due to the coronavirus, the meat-free movement has grown over the past months and years because of increased general awareness about the environmental impact of meat consumption. Animal agriculture contributes an estimated 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions driving the climate crisis – a figure set to spike even more as China and the wider Asian region’s population continues to grow. Not only do plant-based meat substitutes generate far fewer emissions in the manufacturing process, but it reduces water and land wastage as well.
The multitude of concerns regarding the unsustainable meat industry has propelled the number of consumers choosing to go vegan or opt for a flexitarian diet. According to the Good Food Institute (GFI), the Chinese plant-based meat market is now increasing at an annual rate of 14.3% since 2014 and has already surpassed RMB 6.1 billion. In a recent report by the global consultancy OC&C, there will be even more consumer demand and investor appetite to explore more opportunities in the meat-free sector to come.
Want to know more about Asia’s alternative protein space? Download the first in-depth Asia Alternative Protein Report: New Protein New Decade by Green Queen Media here.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.