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Hong Kong startup Good Food Technologies, which makes plant-based pork meat, has announced the closure of an oversubscribed HK$12 million (approx. US$1.5 million) seed round led by pan-Asian VC Gobi Partners, in their first investment into the alternative protein sector, with further participation from LeverVC, DayDayCook and Brinc.
Good Food manufactures plant-based products designed for Asian cuisines and palates. The new funding will be used to bolster an upcoming retail launch, as well as establishing pilot production in the Greater Bay Area. After securing blue-chip food service contracts over the past year with Disneyland, amongst others, Good Food is looking to debut its Plant Sifu consumer range in supermarkets.
The Hong Kong Science Park’s IncuTech program alumn says that over the next two years, the startup will open a Series A round, launch additional products and expand its distribution map, with a particular focus on the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore.
Founded in 2020, Good Food’s initial product R&D focused on Chinese dim sum. The company says the fattiness of pork is what gives many dumplings their signature flavour and aroma, leading the founders to develop proprietary technology dubbed Aromax, a konjac-based encapsulation technology that mimics the fatty pork flavours.
Joshua Ng, co-founder of Good Food Technologies told Green Queen that the end goal is to become Asia’s Impossible Foods for pork, in the way it is known for its plant-based beef burgers. Impossible famously patented its signature heme ingredient, which the company says imparts the iron-rich mouthfeel and bleed of beef.
“We strive to become the go-to plant-based brand for Asian cuisines, as exemplified by our Plant Sifu brand and starting with Chinese staple retail products [dim sum and dumplings] and Asian QSR partners,” says Ng.
Gastronomy first, then retail
Founders Ng and Dr Andrew Leung PhD built Good Food based on what they cite as a mutual passion for food. Leung was exposed to good food early on, thanks to his family’s traditional Chinese restaurant. Ng traces his interest in food systems back to when he worked on a $500 billion smart city development in Saudi Arabia.
Good Food currently has a range of eight plant-based pork products made from soy protein. Five are intended for B2B usage, including meatballs, patties, burgers and ground pork. The remaining three are aimed at consumers in the form of ready-to-cook dumplings.
“Overall, our strategy is food service with a ‘gastronomy first’ approach, then retail for accessible and affordable Chinese staples,” says Ng. “We envision B2B and B2C to be 50/50 in the long run, with one channel generating value for the other.”
Mainland Chinese expansion
Good Food says it is prioritising mainland China in the short to medium term. While the company does not have an official presence there yet, they are already testing their products in the market. Incoming funding will allow the young company to further develop strategic partnerships in the country. One potential partner is Tao Heung Group, which has over 100 restaurant locations across Hong Kong and China.
“Our focus for the next 12-18 months is China, but we will also be unlocking distribution to key international markets,” explains Ng. “Product-wise we are focused on making our existing pork products more nutritious and expanding into other animal categories.
The company will encounter competition in the mainland plant-based pork sector from fellow Hong Kong player OmniFoods as well as local brand Starfield, both of whom have established followings and significant financial backing.
China’s alt-protein commitment
Good Food appears to have chosen a fortuitous moment to launch its alt-protein pork analogues into mainland China. Last week, President Xi made reference to the alt-protein sector in a speech about future food security. Many have taken his words as a sign of approval for plant-based and cultivated meats, which could lead to government support. Food security is an ongoing concern, particularly in light of African Swine Flu outbreaks that left pork imports dwindling. President Xi’s words came after cultivated meats and ‘future foods’ were included in China’s five-year agricultural plan, for the first time ever, heralding what some are seeing as growing acceptance of and demand for al-proteins in China.
All photos by Good Food Technologies.