Unlocking The Full Potential of New Protein in China

The new protein industry in China is exploding with activity as big traditional food players, start-up disruptors, F&B and retail, and investors enter the fray to develop the next generation of products.

In China however – a market shaped by fast-changing consumer preferences and entrenched consumer misunderstanding about what new protein is – the old saying “if you build it, they will come” does not apply.

If the industry wants to unlock the full potential of new protein in China, a number of critical unanswered questions must be addressed, including:

  • What do Chinese consumers think about plant-based meat?
  • Who are the key consumer groups for new protein products?
  • Do consumers know protein is important? Do they care?
  • How is the Chinese diet changing and what is the role of protein in its future?
  • What should the industry focus on in the near future to drive growth?

To seek insightful answers and help all industry players supercharge their growth in China, The New Protein Industry Alliance, in partnership with RTG Consulting, have conducted a deep consumer research project: “Unlocking The Full Potential of New Protein in China”. The report drills deeper into Chinese consumer mindsets towards new protein, examines how this impacts their consumption behaviour, and finally turns insight into actionable opportunities for the industry.


Although 40% of Chinese consumers have heard of plant-based meat, far fewer – only 5% – have tried the product yet. Similarly, although 35% have heard of plant-based dairy, only 11.6% have tried it.

If the industry wants to unlock its full potential in China, we have to start by first understanding the consumer more clearly and identifying key strategies to bridge the disconnect.




95% of Chinese consumers feel that protein is an important part of their diet, with over 50% feeling it is very important. Consumers also link protein very strongly with their health, with 97% of consumers saying it is important or very important for their health.

This strong attachment to protein extends across all age groups and geographies, underlining the longstanding cultural and emotional importance of protein as an essential part of the table across the nation

18-30s are slightly more aware of the importance of protein than older consumers, perhaps pointing to a generational difference in education about diet and nutrition.


Q : Is protein an important part of your diet ?

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Included in the report :

Prologue : A snapshot of the new protein landscape in China and its growth trajectory.

Protein and the Chinese diet : How and why the role of protein is changing in the Chinese diet.

A deep-dive into plant-based meat : An analysis of how consumers think about plant-based meat and areas of opportunity for the industry.

A deep-dive into plant-based dairy : An analysis of how consumers think about plant-based dairy and two case studies in finding growth.

Gearing up for success : Key research findings and expert opinions distilled into five strategic drivers to unlock the full potential of new protein in China.