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Beyond Meat, one of the most recognisable plant-based meat brands in the world, has just launched in Brazil, the world’s third largest consumer and second biggest producer of beef. The news comes after the food tech entered the mainland Chinese retail market as a part of its aggressive international expansion strategy.
The El Segundo, California-based food tech announced on Wednesday (July 15) that it is selling its plant-based burgers, beef mince and sausages in 19 St Marché stores across São Paulo. St Marché is an upscale supermarket chain partially owned by L Catterton, the biggest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world.
It signals a big tidal shift in consumer demand for more sustainable protein alternatives, even in Brazil, the world’s largest beef and chicken exporter, the second biggest producer of beef and the third largest consumer of beef. Earlier this year, Brazil made headlines all over the world over the Amazon rainforest wildfires, which were driven by deliberate forest clearing efforts for cattle ranching and soy feed production as a result of rising global demand for beef.
“Our Brazil market entry marks an important step in furthering our mission of increasing accessibility to plant-based meat globally,” Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, said in a statement.
Whilst plant-based foods have been on the uptrend for years, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has further contributed to the widespread shift towards vegan meat alternatives as a result of growing concerns over the safety, sanitation and sustainability of animal products, especially as global slaughterhouse virus outbreaks cause factories all over the world to shut down. Brazil’s meat plants have also been pointed at as key sources of Covid-19 transmission in the country.
It has prompted what the United Nations has called the biggest decline in meat intake seen in the last decades.
Eyeing the massive business opportunity, Beyond Meat and other plant-based companies, notably its Silicon Valley-based rival Impossible Foods have been doubling down on their efforts to tap into lucrative international markets where the popularity of vegan meat is growing rapidly.
As restaurants stay closed or are operating limited services, expanding into retail has been a key strategy for both Beyond and Impossible over the past weeks. While Beyond Meat has announced its official retail entry into Chinese supermarkets, firstly through the Alibaba-backed Freshippo and later with Metro China chains, Impossible Foods have debuted a brand new direct-to-consumer online shop while continuing to ramp up retail locations in its domestic market.
Established meat industry behemoths are also hopping on the trend. Prior to Beyond Meat’s foray into the Brazilian market, players such as JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat firm, as well as chicken producer BRF SA have both begun offering their own plant-based analogues, from burgers to frozen meals and nuggets.
Lead image courtesy of Angela Weiss / Getty Images.