Pork alternative 'taking Asian market by storm' eyes EU expansion

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Green Monday's food tech company right{treat} has developed a plant-based pork alternative for Asian audiences ©Green Monday
Green Monday's food tech company right{treat} has developed a plant-based pork alternative for Asian audiences ©Green Monday

Related tags alternative protein Pork Asia Hong kong Processing and packaging Innovation

Hong Kongese plant-based pork substitute, Omnipork, is looking to expand beyond Asia into European markets, beginning with the UK.

Pork is the most widely consumed meat in Asia, and indeed, the world. In 2015, over 109 million metric tons of pork were consumed worldwide. Today, China accounts for half the world’s pork consumption.

Growing demand for pork is putting pressure on the livestock industry – known to be a significant contributor of CO₂ emissions – which increases reliance on the planet’s limited natural resources.

Yet at the same time, consumers looking to cut out or reduce their pork consumption in Asia have limited options.

Hong Kong-based Green Monday is working to change that, by tasking its food tech company, right{treat}, to develop a plant-based substitute. The result, Omnipork, is made from pea, non-GMO soy, shitake mushroom, and rice.

Since launching in April 2018, Omnipork has taken Asian markets by storm, according to Green Monday co-founder and CEO David Yeung, who told delegates at the World Food Summit the product will soon expand to mainland China, with Europe on the horizon.

From social enterprise to fast-casual plant-based dining

Omnipork was developed by right{treat}’s Canada-based R&D team and launched by social enterprise Green Monday.

Yeung, who has been a vegetarian for 18 years, established Green Monday in 2012 with the aim of using a ‘greener diet’ to promote an ‘earth-friendly lifestyle’. The social enterprise model encourages companies, schools and organisations to pledge a plant-based ‘green Monday’ one day a week. 

“We are trying to create an ecosystem that simply doesn’t exist [in Asia]. The awareness is lacking, the choice is lacking, investment and innovation are also lacking,” ​he told delegates in Copenhagen last month.

Green Monday has since engaged ‘thousands and thousands’ of companies and organisations, including HSBC, the Government of Hong Kong, the Berkeley City Council in the US, as well as multiple governments, universities, and cities around the world.

“In Hong Kong, we have created massive change,” ​said Yeung, describing the transition from what was an ‘absolute plant-based food desert’ to a population now made up of 24% flexitarians, “3.7% of which are full-time vegetarian or vegan. This grew from virtually nothing”.

To engage consumers on a ‘broader level’ to opt for a ‘healthier green lifestyle’, in 2015, Yeung’s team launched a plant-based fast casual dining and grocery store. By the end of this year, Green Common will exist in 13 locations across Hong Kong. The C-Suite is planning expansion into other cities across Asia, and is working with innovative plant-based brands to bring vegan and vegetarian products to the Asian market.

proprietary blend of plantbased protein from pea non-GMO soy shiitake mushroom and rice
Omnipork is made from various sources of plant-based protein ©Green Monday

“We were the first to bring Beyond Meat outside of the US,” ​Yeung told delegates. “We are now working with so many different companies to bring their products [to Asia], from non-dairy to alternative proteins."

Plant-based pork for Asian audiences

Many of the plant-based offerings at Green Common are ‘very exciting’, “but they come from the West”, ​said Yeung, acknowledging that vegan innovation coming from US and EU markets is targeted at their own audiences.

In Asia, where pork is the most consumed meat, neither bacon nor sausages are the pork products of choice. “Rather, we use [pork] in various forms,” ​he explained, “in dumplings, in dim sum, and minced on top of dishes”. ​To fill this market gap, Green Monday’s food tech start-up developed a plant-based pork alternative for Asian audiences.

Compared to ground pork, Omnipork contains 260% more calcium, 127% more iron, 86% less saturated fat and 66% fewer calories. “The health benefits, like many of these new alternative proteins, is not just about removing meat, but rather [about] providing a superior, more nutritious product,” ​said Yeung.

Omnipork is ‘extremely versatile’, and can be steamed, pan-fried, stuffed, crumbled, or moulded into meatballs. Currently, the product is sold in 230g packets in Green Common cafes, stores, supermarkets and retail outlets.

Omnipork is also available in the foodservice sector, in restaurant hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, the Royal Garden Hotel, and the Cordis Hotel Hong Kong. Local eateries are also stocking Omnipork, including Meat Pie Gor, the King of Sheng Jian, and LiuYiShou ChongQing Hot Pot.

The biggest launch, however, is just around the corner. Omnipork is preparing to launch in China via a partnership with Alibaba’s online store, as well as with quick service restaurants in China. “By the end of this year, or early next year, we will be in 15,000 to 20,000 points of sales, including the most massive chains,” ​said Yeung.

Beyond China, Green Monday is eyeing EU expansion, again for Asian audiences. The UK will be the first market. We are in discussions with various Michelin-star restaurants, hotels as well as fast casual chains, especially with focus on Oriental dishes,”​ we were told.

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