BEIJING (China Daily/ANN): US-based Beyond Meat Inc, a leading plant-based meat producer, is set to invest more in the Chinese market by raising its accessibility and manufacturing capacity along with adopting local flavors such as swapping in traditional minced beef recipes like beef noodles and xiao long bao or steamed soup dumplings.
Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown said in line with the company's goal to increase accessibility to plant-based meat globally, they are going to "make the investment necessary to engage, understand and serve Chinese consumers".
"We are not going lightly into the Chinese market," said Brown.
"We expect to produce products in the region, and have product development capabilities in China."
The global plant-based meat market is estimated to be valued at $12.1 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $27.9 billion by 2025, an annual growth rate of 15 per cent during the forecast period, said research company MarketsandMarkets.
Plant-based products which have had a long history in China are becoming a trendy and meaningful concept, especially when considering sustainability.
But research firm Mintel's report shows that most Chinese consumers still consider animal proteins as having higher nutritional value.
It is pivotal for plant-based protein producers to advocate the health and nutrition benefits of new sustainable animal-free protein products, said Li Chen, deputy director of the food and beverage sector at Mintel.
Domestic and international players in this field have geared up to grab more market opportunities as more Chinese consumers shift to plant-based diets.
Last year, premier ham producer Zhejiang Jinzi Ham Co Ltd rolled out a plant-based beef flavoured pie. Plant-based meat maker Impossible Foods of the United States travelled to Shanghai last year for the annual high-profile China International Import Expo.
Nestle in May began to build its first production facility in Asia in Tianjin for plant-based products. The firm hopes that those type of products will be launched by the end of this year.
Beyond Meat, which is already a member of China Plant Based Foods Alliance, has partnered with Starbucks in China last month, developing a menu including pasta, lasagna and wraps.
Early this month, Beyond Meat worked with Yum China Holdings Inc to introduce the Beyond Burger at select KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell locations starting June 3.
Globally, the firm has been involved with 94,000 retail, restaurant and food service outlets in 75 countries and regions.
Beyond Meat reported net revenues of $97.1 million in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 141 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, despite growth being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The firm contributed their dual-pronged approach of aggressively expanding availability of products in both retail and food service outlets to the continuing mitigation of significant Covid-19 related disruption to revenues.
In the first quarter, the company added more manufacturing capacity in Europe and Canada and expected to produce locally in Asia.
"Our plan is to have production up and running in the region as quickly as possible so we can compete effectively in this very important market for us over many years to come," Brown said.
The firm's first product available on the Chinese mainland was a plant-based minced beef.
"We know that pork is one of the most popular proteins amongst Chinese consumers," said Brown.
"We will continue to innovate across those platforms to meet the needs and preferences of our consumers." - China Daily/Asia News Network
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