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After entering consumer retail in China earlier this month, Beyond Meat will now sell its plant-based burger patties at select Metro China supermarket locations in Shanghai starting today. It marks the El Segundo, California-based food tech’s continued expansion into the Chinese market as consumers in the region continue to shift towards vegan meat alternatives amid the coronavirus pandemic and livestock disease outbreaks.
Announced yesterday, Beyond Meat’s plant-based burger patties will now be available at select Metro China stores across Shanghai. Metro China is a grocery chain with 97 outlets spanning 60 cities in the country.
In a statement, Metro China president Claude Sarrailh said the decision to stock Beyond Meat’s products come as “consumers have started to realise the health and environmental benefits of plant-based meat” in recent years.
“We are very excited to join hands with Beyond Meat to deliver the company’s innovative plant-based meat products to Chinese dining tables,” Sarrailh added.
The news comes shortly after the Californian food tech made its first foray into consumer retail in mainland China earlier this month through a collaboration with Alibaba Group’s retail platform Freshippo, which saw its patties launch across 50 stores in Shanghai and made available on the platform’s mobile app. Beyond Meat has plans to expand retail locations to 48 more Freshippo stores across Beijing and Hangzhou from September 2020 onwards.
The maker of the famous vegan patty has been making significant headway into the massive Chinese consumer market this year. In May, alongside fellow food techs Oatly and Omnipork, Beyond Meat landed a nationwide collaboration with Starbucks to launch plant-based dishes across the chain’s over 4,300 locations in China.
Soon after, Beyond Meat announced a partnership with fast food operator Yum China to launch Beyond Meat dishes in selected KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell locations.
Ethan Brown, the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, also revealed in a previous investor call that the company had finalised an agreement with major Chinese distributor Sinodis, an important step that took the startups’ products to retail in the country.
While the demand for plant-based products in China had been steadily growing due to health concerns, the past year has seen a significant uptick due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the ongoing and new livestock diseases such as the African swine fever that inundated the country’s pork supplies and sent prices surging, and the latest Div1 virus affecting shrimp farms.
The most recent discovery of a novel swine flu in China with “pandemic potential” is likely to further stifle consumer appetite for animal meat and will help raise the profile of plant-based foods as a sustainable and crisis-resilient solution.
If vegan brands such as Beyond Meat do manage to ignite a widespread shift away from animal protein in the world’s most populous country, it will mark a huge step forward to reducing humanity’s impact on the planet and eliminating almost a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions produced by the livestock industry.
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Lead image courtesy of Metro China.