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Hong Kong-based Green Monday has partnered with Taiwan’s largest fast casual restaurant chain, Bafang Yunji, to debut plant-based Omnipork dumplings across Taiwan. Across its nearly 1,000 stores across Taiwan, Bafang Yunji is selling over 1 million Omnipork dumplings each week since launching on the menu on January 12th of this year. The popularity of the plant-based dumplings is testament to the growing meat-free and flexitarian movement in the region, and signals changing tides for the future of food tech in Asia.
Hong Kong’s plant-based social enterprise Green Monday has partnered with Taiwan’s biggest quick service restaurant chain and leading Taiwanese dumpling eatery Bafang Yunji to launch an all-new plant-based dumpling series made with Omnipork. Not only did the Omnipork dumplings sell out at many of Bafang Yunji’s stores across Taiwan on the day of the launch, sales of the plant-based dumplings have skyrocketed to over 1 million each week since its debut. Bafang Yunji is Taiwan’s largest Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain, with almost 1,000 locations by a long way – for comparison, McDonalds, the country’s second largest, has 350 locations.
Developed by Green Monday’s food innovation arm Right Treat, Omnipork is a vegan pork mince substitute made from rice, mushrooms, soy and pea protein, and comes at a fraction of the environmental footprint as well as containing zero cholesterol, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and antibiotics. Priced at TW$6 each (HK$ 1.55, US$ 20 cents), Bafang Yunji offers two vegetarian-friendly dishes using the pork analogue, pan-fried Omnipork dumplings and traditionally boiled Omnipork dumplings. The dumplings themselves are vegan, but it’s worth noting that they are prepared in the same pan as the chain’s non-vegan dumplings.
Commenting on the success of Omnipork across Taiwan’s beloved dumpling chain, founder of Green Monday David Yeung said: “The whopping weekly sales of 1 million Omnipork dumplings [has] far exceeded our expectations, and is a loud and clear statement that Asian markets are ready for change once tasty, innovative and affordable options are available to them.”
By comparison, even Silicon Valley-based food techs that have arguably paved the way for the global plant-based meat alternative industry such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have not seen such record-breaking growth. While indeed, both companies have since their inception seen their sales grow by the millions and have admittedly impressive investment backing to their names, it hasn’t quite reached the 1 million per week pace that Omnipork has achieved in Taiwan, which would equate to an estimated 52 million in a year.
This effectively dwarfs the 13 million heme iron-filled “bleeding” burger patties that Impossible Foods sold over 2016 to 2018, and the 25 million Beyond Meat patties sold as of January 2019. That being said, both food tech giants have signalled their bullish plans for China and the wider Asian region, from unveiling brand new Asia-targeted Impossible Pork products to hints about building a local manufacturing facility for Beyond Meat products in China.
The popularity of Bafang Yunji’s first ever plant-based series of dumplings made with Omnipork is just one example of the fanfare that Green Monday’s vegan pork substitute has received across Asia. Omnipork has made its way throughout supermarket shelves, Green Common stores and F&B venues across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and most recently in mainland China through Alibaba’s e-commerce arm Tmall and a limited edition partnership with Taco Bell chains across Shanghai.
Multiple restaurant partners have even launched specialty Omnipork menus, from high-end luxury hotels such as JW Marriott in Hong Kong and Singapore to casual corner bite chain King of Sheng Jian, who has offered their take on sizzling Omnipork Shanghainese dumplings.
The growth of Omnipork is testament to the growing traction of the meat-free and flexitarian movement in the region, and signals changing tides for the future of food tech in Asia. Much of the massive business opportunity in the region has been carved out of the increased awareness about the environmental footprint and health impact of meat consumption, driving consumers to choose plant-based alternatives more than ever before. According to experts at Euromonitor international, the plant-based meat substitute market will balloon to almost US$16 billion this year.
While American food tech startups are clearly trying to nab a slice of the booming market, Asia-based companies with their local food culture know-how and lower price-points are giving their Western counterparts a run for their money. From the groundbreaking success of Omnipork (the product launched in mid-2018 and is now in more than 8 countries) to the upcoming cohort of home-grown plant-based startups such as Beijing-based Zhenmeat, it looks like the future of plant-based innovation will be right here in Asia.
All images courtesy of Green Monday.