Meatless pigs set to fly in HK

Top News | Agencies 24 Sep 2021

Impossible Foods is rolling out its meatless pork product in Hong Kong in October and Singapore later in the year as it tries to bolster its footprint in the fast-growing plant-based food space.

The California-based company said the ground minced pork substitute would be available in 120 restaurants in Hong Kong from October 4.

The product will also be sold in some Hong Kong grocery stores as ready to eat meals. The company is also debuting the product in New York's Manhattan restaurant Momofuku Ssam Bar from September 23.

Reuters reported in April that Impossible, which makes faux beef products, is preparing for a public listing which could value the U.S. company at around $10 billion or more. Impossible is exploring going public through an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 12 months or a merger with a so-called special acquisition company (SPAC).

"It's a natural step in evolution and growth of our business but the timing is really (to be decided) and we will see how it goes over the course of the next year," said Dennis Woodside, president of Impossible Foods.

Impossible's pork product, which is made from the same key ingredient as its beef product - soy - enters the Hong Kong market at a time when homegrown brands, including Green Monday's Omnipork have already made inroads into the pork substitutes market.

Impossible's product will be priced higher than animal pork to start with but the company said it aims to continually drive down prices as it has done for its Impossible Beef products. "We are optimizing our manufacturing process, really every month, and continually growing our manufacturing footprint and as we fill up our factories that is when we can lower unit cost,"Woodside said.

Michelin-star dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan will be offering four new signature dim sum and rice dishes at all of its Hong Kong restaurants.

Fast-food chain MX, of Maxim's Group will also become the first quick-service restaurant in the city, with its launch of eggplant and Impossible Pork casserole dish at 45 locations.

Free tastings will be available at Tong Chong Street Market in Taikoo Place from October 4 to 8.

A hundred free bento boxes of three bite-sized Impossible Pork dishes from three restaurants will be handed out from 11am daily, with 15 restaurants have participating.

The first day of the five-day event will feature three kinds of dim sum, including pork vegetable bun from Tim Ho Wan, pork and mushroom dumplings from Dumpling Yuan and pan-fried pork bun from Shanghai Home.

The themes for the remaining four days are classic Chinese, South East Asian, Japanese and Taiwanese, as well as East-West fusion cuisines.

California-based Impossible Foods - whose investors include tycoon Li Ka-shing's private-equity unit - said four ready-to-cook meal kits made with Impossible Pork will also be sold in some Hong Kong grocery stores. These include selected ParkNShop supermarkets, which already sell the brand's plant-based beef mince.

Plant-based meat substitutes has become a new trend in Hong Kong as chain restaurants including McDonald's and Cafe de Coral have rolled out menus that use plant-based meat.

A Cafe de Coral spokeswoman said the group had been introducing more options as customers were increasingly looking for healthier and more sustainable diets as they became more health and environmentally conscious.

Its plant based baked pork chop rice has sold well since its launch in July. "It successfully widens the consumer segment, attracting more new customers to our restaurants regularly," the spokeswoman said.

She added that the chain is talking with unnamed suppliers to introduce more varieties of plant-based meats to its menus.

The producer said its Impossible Pork is "vastly more sustainable" than ground pork from pigs, using 81-85 percent less water, 66-82 percent less land and generating 73-77 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

But the president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, Simon Wong Ka-wo, described plant-based meat as a "trend" in Hong Kong.

"People are still exploring the market. While there is room for growth, the rate of growth may not be as fast as we expect," he said, adding that some people were concerned about the amount of additives added to the plant-based meat.

He also said those who ate Chinese vegetarian food might not be willing to try the new meat substitutes.

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