Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat has finalised details of a new R&D centre in Shanghai, China. It marks the first location of its kind for the company, outside of the United States. The facility will house scientists and researchers charged with developing plant-based meats for the Asia-Pacific market. The move comes as part of a wider global expansion plan.
The Beyond Meat Shanghai centre is expected to be operational in the first half of 2022. Cutting-edge technology and lab facilities have been included in the design. It is hoped that these will allow for faster product development and market release. A test kitchen will be included to encourage regional culinary experts to get behind the brand.
Building on a reputation
Beyond Meat entered the Chinese market in 2020. Having scaled its manufacturing capabilities with a production plant in Jiaxing, it is now looking to hone in on the palettes of local consumers. “This new resource will enable us to more precisely serve the palate of the Chinese consumer and contribute directly to the culture’s delicious cuisine while joining our global effort to deliver plant-based meats that are indistinguishable from, healthier than, and over time, priced at parity with their animal protein equivalents,” Dr. Dariush Ajami, chief innovation officer at Beyond Meat said in a statement. “The best-in-class R&D team we are building in Shanghai represents the next leg in our journey to become a global protein company.”
Beyond Meat has partnerships in place with Starbucks and KFC China. It has launched its burger and beef products as well as Beyond Pork, a development specifically targeted at the Chinese market. Together with the Jiaxing production line, the new Shanghai R&D centre will allow localised products to come to fruition quickly.
Readying the troops
The finalised lease for Beyond Meat’s new location comes shortly after pertinent personnel updates. It was announced a week ago that the company has nabbed two executives from former investor Tyson Foods. Both Doug Ramsey and Bernie Adcock had more than three decades of experience with Tyson before making the move. The acquisitions represent a business-forward mindset from Beyond Meat, which has announced that 2022 will see increased focus on the fast-food market. A three-year global agreement with McDonald’s has already been finalised. Yum! Brands and PepsiCo are on board as well.
News of further expansion into China has the potential to heat up the rivalry between Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Both hailing from California, the former has made more headway in terms of global expansion. This has been largely attributed to regulatory stumbling blocks encountered by the Impossible Foods’ heme ingredient. A GMO soy haemoglobin addition that makes its plant-based burgers ‘bleed’, it is causing delays moving into Europe and China.
Shanghai turning green
The new Beyond Meat R&D centre will be the latest move to consolidate Shanghai as a plant-based hub. It already has a burgeoning vegan and plant-based scene. Earlier this year, Starbucks selected the country as the first non-U.S. location for a circular store. Equipped with repurposed materials and underpinned with zero-waste initiatives, it provides a template for wider rollout outside of the U.S.
Lead image courtesy of Beyond Meat.