On January 23, 2021, Chinese media found that a food company called SharkFit in Shandong Province had received a capital injection from a subsidiary of Bytedance. The latter acquired an 11.11% stake in the food company, making it the company’s largest shareholder.
Founded in 2017, SharkFit is a company that specializes in selling low-calorie, high-protein instant foods to fitness people. Its first product is a low-oil, low-salt roast chicken breast. Chicken breast is a very popular food among fitness people, but it is not easy to cook it tasty and healthy. SharkFit solved this problem, therefore it quickly won the favor of consumers.
In the category of pre-cooked packaged chicken breast, SharkFit has ranked No. 1 on the sales list of China’s famous e-commerce site Tmall for 17 months in a row.
It’s not clear why Bytedance invested in SharkFit, but the Internet giant seems to have shown its intention to enter the video market. In May 2020, Bytedance invested in lazy bear hotpot, a Chinese hot pot chain. In September, ByteDance registered the “ByteCoffee” trademark, and the trademark is used as “convenience food”.
Bytedance’s main competitor in China, Tencent, as an Internet company, has also invested in two restaurant chains in the past year, one is Tim Hortons, a coffee brand from Canada, and the other is a local ramen brand.
Over the past year, as Chinese consumers have become more fond of their own brands, therefore, the logic of Internet companies investing in consumer goods companies may not be really interested in consumer goods.
Chinese Internet companies are used to investing in giant offline retail or catering companies and then ask them to use only their own App to pay and offer promotions to boost their App activity and revenue. This is very common and effective in the Internet competition in China.