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South Korea’s Unlimeat, the Zikooin alternative meat brand that makes sliced beef from upcycled food waste amongst other products, has finally landed in the US. The launch announcement was made with a Times Square advert on the Thomas Reuters billboard. Online sales will give consumers access to a range of products ahead of retail expansion.
Unlimeat was first launched in 2019. Proprietary protein extrusion developments were used to make slices of plant-based meat. Key ingredients included soy and pea protein, coconut oil and rice flour. The beef-like flavour and texture has garnered the company global acclaim and a Monde Selection bronze medal.
Entering a new market
Since its launch, Unlimeat has grown its reach within Asia and beyond. Already found within Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the UAE, a move into the U.S. is significant progress. Starting with online-only sales, the U.S. launch marks the company’s 2022 global expansion strategy. If sales reach anticipated figures, restaurant collaborations will follow next, with retail stores following soon after.
The U.S. is considered to be a must-enter market for alternative protein companies. Thought to account for up to 21 percent of worldwide plant-based meat demand, it offers foreign companies access to a ready-and-waiting clientele. In Unlimeat’s case, this will include the 22 million-strong Asian population, which is currently not adequately catered for.
Domestic alternative protein companies are increasing in number but with most focussed on US-centric foods, Asian communities are missing out. Unlimeat is seizing an opportunity to be an import of choice for consumers keen to recreate traditional dishes with plant-based meat.
Leaning on its Korean roots, Unlimeat’s slices and pulled barbecue products are examples of key ingredients for authentic Asian cooking. “We plan to expand in the US market in earnest by securing a supply chain and logistics network mainly on the West Coast first,” a company spokesperson for Unlimeat said. “We want to provide more options to the American table through our Asian-style plant-based meat.”
Initially, Unlimeat will be available through online Korean foods retailer Wooltari Mall USA.
Building on a positive year
2021 saw Unlimeat cement its Asian popularity and recognition. With sales promising, parent company Zikooin announced plans to build one of the largest plant-based meat factories in the region. $23 million was raised to support the endeavour that will see a specialist production plant created in Jecheon City. Shortly after, it was revealed that Unlimeat and 7-Eleven Hong Kong had entered into a partnership to produce vegan barbecued meat sandwiches. The marinaded release was made available across 800 locations.
The Korean influence
With a highly competitive plant-based meat sector, Korean exports are on the rise. The U.S. is a key market for most, with major players looking for suitable launch dates and products.
CJ Cheiljedang has made no bones about its plans to enter the plant-based meat scene. PlanTablewill be its new brand, with more than 20 products scheduled for release this year. Dumplings have already found their way to Australia and Singapore. The U.S. is earmarked for distribution as well.
Legacy tofu manufacturer Pulmuone has announced its move into the alternative meat arena. Still using soy, it has created a range of eight new products designed to perfectly imitate the taste and functionality of meat. The Plantspired line has already been confirmed for U.S. audiences, with patties, stir-fry pieces and ready-meals planned. No official release date has been floated.
All images courtesy of Unlimeat.