UPDATE: 17 October, with Q&A with Green Monday CEO & Founder, David Yeung
After teaming up with Cathay Pacific and helping it be the first airline to serve a plant-based alternative pork, Omnipork will be launching its product in China in Q4 2019, AFN can reveal. Speaking exclusively to us, David Yeung, the CEO and Founder of Omnipork manufacturer Green Monday, said “with food safety and security being threatened by African Swine Fever, and with pork prices skyrocketing 69% year-on-year, the awareness and demand for alternatives has never been higher.”
Read on for the rest of our Q&A with Yeung
In an earlier release, Cathay said the mock meat will be minced up and dished out in a bolognaise sauce pasta on all business class flights out of Hong Kong from November 2019. The mock pork joins Beyond Meat in Cathay’s culinary repertoire – it’s already sitting in dishes at the airline’s Hong Kong International Airport lounge. The airline is also planning to include Omnipork in more of its dishes to cater to passengers on plant-based diets.
“One of the most frequently received requests by our team is to collaborate with airlines to increase and improve in-flight plant-based options. We appreciate that the Cathay Pacific team sees the need to cater to passengers with various dietary needs…as it sets an example for its industry peers. We are confident that when it comes to the possibilities of new-generation plant-based food, the sky is not the limit!” said Yeung, earlier.
Snapshot: About Cathay Pacific and Omnipork
OmniPork is a vegan blend of pea protein, non-GMO soy, shiitake mushrooms and rice. It’s said to look and taste like the real deal. But here’s how it’s supposedly better than the red meat: it contains zero cholesterol, is cruelty-free and 86% lower in saturated fat and 66% lower in calories, according to its website. The mock meat also features a reduced carbon footprint. Serving it would align with recent efforts by airline carriers to go green. In July 2018, Air New Zealand began serving Impossible Foods as part of its Business Premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland routes.
AFN caught up with David Yeung.
Joe Gan: Why team up with Cathay Pacific? What’s the strategy behind this move?
David Yeung: We had been getting so much requests from people who desperately want to see more choices and better quality vegan options for in-flight meals. Given Cathay Pacific is clearly one of the world’s leading international airlines and they have always taken a leadership position in various social initiatives, it was an easy choice to kick off discussions and collaboration with them.
Joe: How has been reception to OmniPork thus far?
Yeung: We are pleasantly surprised by the reception. Chefs and diners really love the versatility of OmniPork, as well as its applications for many Asian cuisines. That explains why in Taiwan, where we just launched our retail pack, we are ranked #2 in the entire frozen meat section in one of the most prominent supermarket channel!
Joe: Will Omnipork be expanding into China? There’s a pork shortage there.
Yeung: Most definitely. In fact, it will happen within Q4. With food safety and security being threatened by African Swine Fever, and with pork price skyrocketing 69% year-on-year, the awareness and demand for alternatives has never been higher.
Joe: What your outlook for the ‘mock meat’ industry in China?
Yeung: First of all, the vegetarian population has always been there in China. Just to serve the tens of millions of vegans/vegetarians is already a very significant market. Secondly, with ASF devastating the animal protein supply chain, industry leaders are becoming much more opened.
Joe: Any plans to expand your product range?
Yeung: Surely! We have many more exciting products in the pipeline. We look forward to announcing them in the foreseeable future.
Plant-based entering the mainstream
Hong Kongers have been snapping up Omnipork since its debut in stores and restaurants. It’s also expanded its distribution to Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand. The mock meat is set to launch in China soon, too. Across the Pacific, McDonald’s has begun firing up Beyond Meat burgers in Southwestern Ontario, including Canada’s largest city, Toronto, for 12 weeks. Burger King sells Impossible Whoppers all over the US. White Castle, Qdoba, Bareburger and more have hopped on the plant-based menu bandwagon too.
China’s Pork Shortage
Omnipork’s prevalence in the Greater China region also comes amid a pork shortage, brought about by the African Swine Fever. China recently went public about digging into its pork reserves. It’s also culled over one million pigs, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It’s also clear Green Monday wants a share of China’s plant-based meat pie. The industry is growing rapidly, up 14.2% to $910 million in 2018, from the year before, according to a report by US-based Good Food Institute. In comparison, the American market stood at $684 million that year.