Business Insight

10 Key Points from Good Food Technologies' Rapid Growth with Plant-Based Meals 'Plant Sifu' in Hong Kong

Mytri Korsipati
June 21, 2024

Introduction to Good Food Technologies

Good Food Technologies has been rocketing through the vegetarian food industry with its outstanding plant-based meat technology. Founded in 2020 in Hong Kong, the plant-based meat alternatives for Asian cuisine is their product, called Plant Sifu.

Plant Sifu developed a plant-based pork substitute using konjac, coconut oil, and soybeans and utilized a technology called AROMAX™ as the base for an accurate and satisfying substitute for real meat.

Ever since its launch, Plant Sifu has achieved significant milestones. They quickly expanded into multiple foodservice locations, including partnerships with seven reputable Chinese restaurants and Shanghai Lao Lao's 12 locations. They also partnered with Fairwood, Hong Kong's second-largest Chinese fast-food chain with over 100 outlets and they also began a six-month trial with Cathay Pacific, one of the top international airlines, providing plant-based pork meals for Economy and Premium Economy class in North America, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in July 2022.

Source: Plant Sifu Website

Now let’s walk through the journey of Good Food Technologies’ outstanding speed and intelligent decisions for their success.

What is AROMAX™?

The development of AROMAX™ involved extensive research into Chinese recipes, particularly dim sum, to understand the key ingredients that make these dishes flavorful and craveable. Through collaboration with chefs, the team identified pork fat and lard as essential components in Chinese and Asian cuisine. This discovery guided the creation of AROMAX™, which incorporates several key features to enhance the culinary experience.

AROMAX™ is a highly developed technology with its outstanding texture, making it more resistant to biting and very similar to real pork fat. They do this by using low-temperature emulsification, high-temperature coagulation and high-speed pulversization technology to recreate the aroma and texture of fatty pork with ingredients such as konjac and coconut oil. This keeps dishes juicy by locking in extra oils that release during cooking, enhancing moisture and flavor, especially in dishes like dim sum. It also boosts aroma with special ingredients, making the food smell like real pork fat. When steamed, it turns translucent, looking just like real pork fat and making plant-based dishes more appealing.

Source: Good Food Technologies Website

Good Food Technologies’ success with AROMAX™ underscores the importance of thorough research, collaboration with culinary experts, and a focus on replicating the essential qualities of traditional ingredients. By addressing the core components that make Chinese and Asian cuisine flavorful and authentic, they have created a product that not only meets but exceeds consumer expectations.

Why Pork?

The idea of closely resembling real pork is especially significant because pork is a staple in Chinese cuisine. Their flagship product uses konjac, coconut oil, and soybeans, along with their special Aromax™ technology, to mimic the smell and texture of pork fat, making it perfect for Chinese dishes.

The creation of Good Food Technologies' plant-based pork was inspired by a deep understanding of Chinese cooking. Aromax™ technology is key to their success, as it helps the plant-based pork replicate the unique aroma and feel of pork fat. This is crucial for dishes like dumplings and siu mai, where the taste and texture of pork are important. By focusing on these aspects, Good Food Technologies has made a product that both chefs and home cooks can use to make authentic-tasting dishes without meat.

Several key milestones and smart decisions have contributed to the company's success. One of the biggest achievements was securing HK$12 million (US$1.53 million) in their first round of funding. This financial support came from Gobi Partners, Lever China, DayDayCook, and Brinc. It provided the necessary funds to expand their operations and reach more markets, including international ones.

Recognition and awards have also played a significant role. Good Food Technologies won the HKTDC's Start-up Express program and was voted “My Favorite Start-up” by the audience in its fifth edition. These honors show that their products are well-received and have strong potential.

Social Media Marketing Followed by Current Trends

Good Food Technologies’ marketing strategy is also something that we shall not forget about.

Even though the product itself is well developed with a high technology base and has a unique approach for partnerships, MARKETING is what many companies experience a game changer in. Advertising Plant Sifu through instagram is one way that Good Food Technologies entered the competitive market of food technology.

Just by looking at the image below, we can see that the SNS marketing team is not lightly taken by the Company. Harmonizing the color concepts, products, events, as well as making the key achievements stand out is a method that follows the current social media marketing trend and Good Food Technologies managed to reflect this onto their marketing strategy, creating a further trustworthy and high-standard effort image.

Source: Plant Sifu Official Instagram (@eatplantsifu)

Takeaways from the Interview with Retail in Asia

As more people in Hong Kong choose vegetarian and 'flexitarian' diets for health, environmental, and animal welfare reasons, the demand for plant-based food is growing. Good Food Technologies has seized this opportunity, aiming to provide tasty and healthy plant-based foods. Their journey offers important lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups.

Next, let’s take a look at the takeaways that Good Food Technologies can provide for the path to a successful startup.

(Refer to : Moving vegetarianism forward: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Good Food Technologies)

Finding the Market Gap

Despite growing interest, Hong Kong's restaurants have few good vegetarian options, especially for traditional Chinese dishes. Good Food Technologies saw this gap and decided to create a plant-based pork substitute that could be used by chefs and home cooks. Identifying what the market needs is the first big step for any successful startup.

Founders’ Expertise

Good Food Technologies was started by Andrew Leung and Joshua Ng. Andrew, with a PhD in turning waste into useful products, and Joshua, with experience in renewable energy and sustainable food systems, combined their skills to tackle this challenge. Their knowledge of sustainability and innovation has been key to the company's success.

Development and Innovation

The team started working full-time on Good Food Technologies in July 2020. Their big innovation, Aromax™, is a plant-based pork fat that looks, smells, and tastes like real pork fat. This makes their plant-based pork work well in Chinese cooking, where pork fat is important for flavor and texture. Focusing on what makes traditional dishes delicious helped them create a product that meets high standards.

Target Market and Expansion

Good Food Technologies targets "new school" vegetarians who care about health, sustainability, and animal welfare. Hong Kong's high awareness of plant-based foods and China's large pork consumption offer significant market opportunities. Focusing on these markets helps them grow effectively.

Product Accessibility and consumer engagement

To make their products available to home cooks, they launched ready-to-cook frozen dim sum and dumplings. Partnering with Daydaycook, they offer easy-to-cook Chinese meal packs. Making products accessible at home expands their reach. They also did extensive taste tests to ensure product quality.

Sustainability Goals

The company aims to increase the use of plant-based proteins and measures their impact by the amount of plant-based pork consumed. Clear goals help track progress and show their sustainability impact.

Good Food Technologies 好食科技™ | LinkedIn
Source : Good Food Technologies 好食科技™

Expansion into Mainland China

Good Food Technologies, a startup from Hong Kong, is making big moves in the world of plant-based food. As they venture into Mainland China, there's a lot to learn from their strategic steps and achievements. Let's break down their key milestones and strategies for future entrepreneurs to understand better.

Plans for Retail and Production

With the seed investor funding they've received, Good Food Technologies is gearing up to sell their products in stores and set up new production facilities. This shows how important it is for startups to have clear plans for making and selling their products on a larger scale.

Expanding the Market

They're not stopping at Hong Kong—they're looking to spread their products across Mainland China and even into other countries like the U.S. and U.K. It's smart for startups to think about where their products will be most popular and to plan their expansion carefully.

Big Deals and Partnerships

Good Food Technologies has scored some impressive contracts, including one with Disneyland. These partnerships help them reach more customers and build up their reputation. For startups, teaming up with big names can bring in more business and make people trust your brand.

Facing Competition

They're not alone in the plant-based food world, with companies like OmniFoods and Starfield also in the mix. Knowing who your competition is and finding ways to stand out is crucial for startups.

Key Insights for Success

Good Food Technologies' story offers useful lessons for entrepreneurs and businesses in the food industry. By finding a market gap, using their expertise, and focusing on product development and partnerships, they have succeeded in a competitive market. 

Favor of the high market demand

Given that the demand for plant-based options in Hong Kong is substantial with 86% of residents expressing a desire for them, their smart expansion plans, commitment to sustainability, and good use of funding show the importance of having clear goals and understanding the market.

Additionally, 79% of respondents seek government intervention in setting emissions reduction targets and promoting lower-carbon food production strategies. This indicates a significant interest and demand for plant-based alternatives in the region. To start and grow a successful business, Good Food Technologies' experience shows how innovation, teamwork, and meeting market needs can lead to success. Following these strategies can help achieve success in the growing plant-based food industry.

Their success also hinged on savvy marketing strategies and a commitment to sustainability, appealing to health-conscious consumers. For entrepreneurs, key takeaways from Good Food Technologies’ journey include identifying market gaps, innovating with purpose, building strong partnerships, securing funding, leveraging effective marketing, and prioritizing sustainability. These strategies can help startups achieve growth and impact in competitive markets.

Written by Mytri Korsipati (underdogs)

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Mytri Korsipati
Business Developer
Multilingual skills with high diversity in cultural background. High interest in the biotechnology industry as well as startups and business initiation.