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Following its partnership with fast food giant KFC to launch chicken-free plant-based nuggets in China earlier this year, Cargill will now be debuting its own consumer facing plant-based meat brand. Called PlantEver, the new brand will offer Chinese consumers a range of plant-based alternatives, with its first two products slated to launch this July.
Controversial American agribusiness giant Cargill is to launch new plant-based products in China this month under the brand PlantEver, including a chicken nugget alternative and a meatless beef patty. They will first be available on Cargill’s Sun Valley Tmall flagship store before launching across a number of online and in-store channels in the coming months.
“These products will help meet demand for nutritious, great-tasting alternative protein options,” said Cargill in a press release. Both plant-based protein products are produced locally in Cargill’s facilities in Chuzhou, a city in the Anhui Province in China.
“Cargill is taking an inclusive approach to the future of protein by investing in both animal and alternative protein,” said Jackson Chan, the managing director of Cargill Protein in China. “We will continue to offer safe, responsible and sustainable proteins to customers and consumers by flexing our supply chain advantage and global research and development expertise.”
The news comes shortly after the company partnered with fast food chain KFC China in April to launch a consumer trial of plant-based nuggets, which were reportedly sold out within the first days of the test.
It is no secret that Cargill has for a long time been associated with food contamination, workplace rights abuses and environmental violations, and has become a frequent target by climate activists for its role in deforestation in Indonesia. The latest move to embrace more sustainable alternatives is likely a part of its strategy to reverse its reputational crisis while riding on the fast-growing trend.
Demand for plant-based alternatives in the region have skyrocketed in the past few months. On top of long-term health and environmental awareness driving the trend, the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen slaughterhouse outbreaks, consequent supply chain breakdowns and surging prices, has been a major driver for more consumers to adopt safer and more sustainable alternatives.
As the Chinese economy began to reopen earlier this year in April, the country saw a wave of plant-based offerings taking over the market, from Starbucks announcing a nationwide partnership with vegan food techs Beyond Meat, Oatly and Omnipork, to homegrown vegetarian brand Starfield launching across hundreds of food outlets across the country.
In addition to the coronavirus, concern about the ongoing African swine fever outbreak and other new livestock diseases, such as the latest Div1 virus affecting shrimp farms, is undoubtedly fuelling the plant-based trend.
The most recent discovery of a novel swine flu in China with “pandemic potential” will only work to further stifle consumer appetite for animal meat and raise the profile of plant-based foods as a sustainable and crisis-resilient solution.
Lead image courtesy of China Plus.