Beyond Meat: Beyond Burger
Image credit: Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat opens China factory, its first outside US

April 7, 2021

Beyond Meat has announced the opening of its new production facility in China, signaling its intentions for the country’s fast-growing – and potentially very lucrative – alt-protein market,

Located in the eastern city of Jiaxing, near Shanghai, the factory is the US company’s first “end-to-end manufacturing facility” outside its home country.

Best known for its plant-based burgers and sausages, Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat said in a statement that its “cutting-edge plant” in Jiaxing will produce multiple products from its range of meat analogs. In particular, it will churn out variations on Beyond Pork, which the company described as its “first innovation created specifically for the Chinese market.”

The new factory will also serve as an R&D center which will design and manufacture “unique product offerings” for Chinese consumers in tandem with the company’s local partners and suppliers.

Beyond Meat added that it expects the opening of its first factory in Asia to “significantly increase” the speed, scale, and sustainability of producing and distributing its products across the region.

“The opening of our dedicated plant-based meat facility in China marks a significant milestone in Beyond Meat’s ability to effectively compete in one of the world’s largest meat markets,” said co-founder and CEO Ethan Brown.

“We believe this new manufacturing facility will be instrumental in advancing our pricing and sustainability metrics as we seek to provide Chinese consumers with delicious plant-based proteins that are good for both people and planet.”

Beyond Meat first began offering its products in China in April last year via a tie-up with Starbucks. A few months later, fast food chain operator Yum China began trialing the US company’s products in its KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell outlets in the country.

In July, Beyond Meat commenced retail sales to Chinese consumers, selling its products via Alibaba‘s tech-enabled supermarket chain Freshippo.

The US firm’s latest move into Asia comes amid a flurry of alt-protein activity across the region. In recent months, myriad homegrown startups have secured funding for slaughter-free ‘meat’ offerings, such as Starfield and Hey Maet in mainland China, Shiok Meats and Next Gen Foods in Singapore, and Avant and Green Monday in Hong Kong. Beyond Meat’s closest rival, fellow US outfit Impossible Foods, has also been upping its game in the region; it was one of the top-funded agrifoodtech startups worldwide in 2020, according to data from AFN and AgFunder.

Beyond Meat signs global supply deals with McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut – read more here

CEO Brown had previously stated that his company would establish a manufacturing presence in Asia during 2020, though the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic may have delayed this.

“I made a commitment that we’re going to be producing in Asia by the end of this year. We’ll do that regardless [of] this health epidemic occurring right now. We have to be active in China, regardless of what’s going on,” he told CNBC in March 2020.

Beyond Meat also confirmed today that it its first “owned” manufacturing facility in Europe – located in Enschede, the Netherlands – will commence operations later this year. The company had earlier established co-manufacturing relationships with European food producers including the Netherlands’ Zandbergen.

Last month, Beyond Meat announced that it had signed global supply deals with Yum! Brands and McDonald’s. The agreement with the latter will see the alt-protein maker become the worldwide ‘preferred supplier’ of patties for the fast food chain’s new McPlant plant-based burger.

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