Alternative meat maker has raised $850,000 in funding with participation of Lever China and global commodities giant Cremer

Hero Protein, the first Chinese plant-based meat company to use cutting-edge high-moisture extrusion technology, has completed an $850,000 pre-seed funding round to launch its products into the market. The funding round saw participation from global commodities and co-manufacturing giant Cremer, Lever China Fund, and senior executives from restaurant brands.

Founded in 2020 and based in Shanghai, Hero Protein aims to become a leading brand, delivering a tasty and accessible range of plant-based meat products, offering consumers the culinary experience of conventional meat while ensuring food safety and sustainability.

The start-up’s initial product range includes a variety of plant-based beef and chicken products. The formulation was developed specifically for the Chinese market by a team of former senior R&D executives at the five largest plant-based meat brands in North America – Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein, Lightlife and Morningstar.

The funding round will be used to advance the company’s ongoing research and development, to develop and scale production, and to expand distribution.

Hero Protein: Pioneering high moisture extrusion technology

The application of high moisture extrusion technology in food manufacturing is common in the West, but it has not been used by domestic brands in China. Hero is the first Chinese challenger brand to do so.

The technology is particularly critical for reproducing the juiciness and mouthfeel of meat.

“Plant-based meat is a rising and unstoppable trend in China,” said Hero Protein chief executive Edward Weng. “HERO Protein aims to bring together the advanced food technology used by top international players, such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and the domestic know-how to curate delicious products specifically catered to the Chinese palate, at prices affordable for a broader range of Chinese consumers. We are very pleased to receive support from investors and partners who share our mission.”

Weng has a longstanding career in the meat industry. The past fifteen years he served as vice-president of sales and marketing at Xiamen Zhongma, selling conventional meat and other food products into leading quick-service restaurants (QSR) chains in China. His client base included KFC, Starbucks, and Burger King.

“Hero Protein is proud to partner with leading domestic players in the ingredients, logistics, production, food and
retail industries,” said Hero Protein chief operating officer Ludovic Shum. “By localising the production, we ensure product quality control and keep pricing affordable, allowing for successful market penetration and growth.”
Shum previously worked as marketing director at Carrefour China, and was in charge of category management and new concepts development. He has 15 years of experience in the retail industry at Carrefour France and China.

Hero Protein was recently named to the International Future Agrifood 2020 Alternative Protein Top 20 list and was a winner of TechNode Global’s 2020 Origin Innovation Awards in the Food & AgriTech category.

In January, Hero Protein launched into the foodservice channel in China.

Date published: 9 February 2021

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