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Beyond Meat is doubling down on the Chinese market, launching on e-commerce giant JD.com to mark its first foray into the country’s enormous online retail space. Keen to attract local appetites, the food tech is selling its Beyond Pork products through the platform, in addition to its iconic plant-based beef offerings.
Beyond Meat has made its first e-commerce entry in the Chinese market, launching on JD.com, one of China’s two biggest online retailers and arch-rival of Alibaba’s Tmall. From Thursday (July 15), Beyond will begin selling its vegan meat to consumers in select cities, among them Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
Beyond Pork DTC launch
On the platform, the food tech is selling Beyond Pork, it’s “savory and sumptuous product that was created exclusively for the Chinese market”. The plant-based pork alternative is made with soy and rice and contains over 18 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.
With health being the top-of-mind concern for Chinese consumers, Beyond is marketing its pork analogue as a more nutritious and clean label product. According to the brand, Beyond Pork contains 50% less saturated and total fat compared to conventional 70/30 ground pork.
JD.com will initially deliver to select major Chinese cities, before a wider roll-out in the coming months. Beyond says that over 300 cities are planned as part of its expansion.
China is the world’s biggest market for online retail, with major players like JD.com, Alibaba, and Pinduoduo at the helm. The industry has grown double-digits over the past years, and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Set to reach US$2.1 trillion in sales this year, GlobalData estimates that this figure will grow over 12% annually to top US$3 trillion by 2024.
Beyond’s move into the e-commerce space in China will be key to growing its presence in the country. It comes around a year and a half after it first entered the market with a nationwide Starbucks launch with OmniFoods and Oatly. Beyond has also launched in Alibaba’s Hema and Metro China stores, but JD.com marks its first online retail channel.
“Beyond Meat is excited to launch its store on JD.com to expand our local availability and reach consumers throughout China,” commented Candy Chan, the brand’s general manager for China.
Chinese plant-based demand
For JD.com, offering more plant-based products on its platform comes in response to rising consumer demand. While the Chinese vegan food industry is still in its infancy, interest in plant-based alternatives has grown particularly in the wake of Covid-19.
Rising food safety and concerns about health and immunity have propelled consumers, especially the younger middle-class in China, to seek vegan meat products. Some reports predict that alternative protein demand will grow 200% within the next 5 years.
“We see that Chinese consumers pay more and more attention to healthy diet and lifestyle,” James Ye, general manager of JD Fresh, told Reuters.
“Via our long-established advantages in supply chain, cold chain logistics, retail and omni-channels, we hope to bring Beyond Meat’s healthy and high-quality products to Chinese consumers.”
A major business opportunity
Beyond is clearly hoping to capitalise on the demand, having recently opened its factory the Jiaxing Economic & Technological Development Zone (JXEDZ). The factory currently produces its Beyond Beef, Beyond Burger, and Beyond Pork for the Chinese market.
“With increased capabilities thanks to our new manufacturing facility in the JXEDZ, we are able to offer a growing portfolio of great-tasting, locally-produced plant-based meat products that are nutritious and sustainable,” said Chan.
Other foreign companies like Eat Just and Nestlé are also competing in the space. After launching on both Tmall and JD.com, Eat Just has rolled out its vegan JUST Egg across fast-food giant Dicos. Nestlé recently debuted Harvest Gourmet, its dedicated alt-meat brand for the Chinese market.
Lead image courtesy of Beyond Meat.