CHINA March 2020
 
New Crop Capital, Dao Foods to invest in China’s ‘Alternative Meat’ firm Starfield
 
US-based New Crop Capital (NCC), a pioneer investor of Beyond Meat and over 30 alternative protein ventures globally, and its China-based investment partner Dao Foods International, have recently announced investment in Shenzhen-based Starfield Food and Science Technology Limited.
Starfield is considered to be the only Chinese next-generation alternative meat venture that has its own R&D and manufacturing capability. Starfield has focused on developing strong relationships with restaurant partners to introduce and showcase their plant-based meat products to Chinese consumers, particularly millennials. So far, Starfield has reached out to more than 20 local and international restaurant chains which include Papa Johns, Nayukis Tea and Element Fresh amongst others.
Starfield has recently released the first iteration of their ground meat product, which has been used in many different applications such as Future Meatball Pizza at Papa Johns, Lemongrass Satay at Brut Eatery and Green Star Burger at Nayukis Tea.
Starfield currently owns one invention patent i.e. a method for extracting glycophilic proteins from seaweed, and has submitted an application for an additional patent protecting other aspects of their base technology. To further improve product development, Starfield has established R&D partnerships with Beijing Technology and Business University, Shenzhen University and Jiangnan University, and a few Chinese academic institutions that lead research work and efforts in the alternative meat field.
Matrix Partners China, a leading Chinese venture capital firm, led the angel investment round for Starfield together with NCC and Dao Foods. Matrix has invested in over 600 Chinese startup ventures, including Ele.me, one of China’s largest food delivery services delivering over 16 million orders a day across over 2000 cities in China.
According to Cross Chen, co-founder of Starfield, China is a big gourmet country where people consider food divine and also think that food should have therapeutic and health improvement functions. Cross is confident that plant-based food will be widely adopted in China, thereby further promoting the development of modern plant-based product technology. Cross said, “We are grateful for our encounter with Dao Foods and NCC. They are our valuable partners who have given us great support in the effort to develop China’s plant-based food market.”
Latest news also revealed that China is now preparing to restructure its meat production and distribution system after the latest coronavirus crisis, which could serve as a catalyst to producers of plant-based meat substitutes. In response to the coronavirus situation, Starfield has launched a Food Services Alliance initiative, under which it will collaborate with major food services chains to provide home delivered meals with plant-based meat options.
We at AFBR are now even more optimistic of the future of plant-based food after this coronavirus episode, particularly in countries like China, South Korea, US and Europe which are severely impacted by this pandemic.
 
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