As Demand for Sustainable Protein Soars In China, Zrou’s Plant-Based Meat Expands
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Youkuai Group International and Beijing-based food distributor Usource are joining forces to increase North China’s access to plant-based meat products.
China, like the rest of Asia, continues to show strong interest in plant-based food options, and the new partnership between Youkuai and Usource is aimed at creating a distribution channel for Youkuai’s plant-based Zrou brand.
Zrou plant-based meat
The agreement will see Youkuai and Usource distribute a variety of Zrou plant-based meat products to top dining establishments, breweries, hotels, and other food outlets across Beijing, Tianjin, and other regions across Northern China.
Zrou was developed by chefs and favored by top food and beverage professionals across China. It offers a range of plant-based products made from non-GMO soybeans including ground pork, burger patties, meatballs, and chicken nuggets. Youkuai raised more than USD $7M in a 2021 Series A funding round to support its expansion of the Zrou label.
In 2021, Zrou formed a strategic alliance with Accor Group to introduce its products to the hospitality dining sector. Since then, Zrou has been served in 18 cities at more than 160 locations including schools, corporate cafeterias, five-star hotels, and a range of restaurants.
Beijing-based Usource imports, processes, and distributes to leading hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, and e-commerce platforms. “We’re extremely excited to roll out Zrou to our existing customers, who demand the highest quality products,” Will Kerins, Usource’s co-founder, said in a statement.
“Zrou’s brand and products have been on our radar since they started, and we believe their latest product iterations are the tastiest in the market. Given Zrou’s product quality and brand strength, we’re extremely excited to bring them on board and offer them to our customers.”
The expanding plant-based market in China
Usource is also behind the plant-based cheese brand “Grassroots” — a first-of-its-kind dairy-free cheese brand in China.
“Grassroots is in the process of building out its production capabilities for products including shredded mozzarella, sliced cheddar, chèvre, and dulce de leche, among others,” Kerins said. “Business synergies are an essential part of our corporate strategy, and Zrou will serve as a great complement to both our established and developing product pipelines.”
Franklin Yao, Founder and CEO of Youkuai, believes the partnership signals the beginning of a new food movement driven by superior products and excellent value for Chinese customers.
“Finding partners that care about the entire customer experience as much as we do continue us on a path to addressing food safety and food security, one dish at a time,” Yao says.