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Photo credit: Yum China

Beyond Meat teams up with KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in China expansion

June 2, 2020

Beyond Meat is partnering with Yum China, the domestic operator of restaurant brands including Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, to introduce more of its products into the country.

For the first time, Chinese consumers will be able to order the US plant-based protein maker’s ‘fake beef’ patty, the Beyond Burger, at certain Yum China chains.

For a three-day trial period starting tomorrow, the burger will be available at select KFC outlets in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

Over the next week, three Taco Bell stores in Shanghai will offer customers a taco containing the Beyond Burger patty. In a first for the pizza-centric chain in China, Pizza Hut will add a Beyond Burger sandwich to its menu, along with a sirloin steak burger made from real beef. These items will be available in six Shanghai stores between 8-11 June, exclusively to Pizza Hut members who obtain pre-sale coupons in advance.

This new string of limited-time offers follows an April trial which saw KFC stores in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen pilot plant-based ‘chicken’ nuggets supplied by Beyond Meat rival Cargill.

The US agribusiness later said the trial had been a success and that it would expand its B2B alt-protein offering in China, in addition to launching a direct-to-consumer brand called PlantEver.

Yum China CEO Joey Wat said the company sees “great potential” for plant-based simulated meat in China.

“This latest introduction across [our] KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands is expected to capture valuable consumer feedback across different regions in China. It will enable us to optimize flavors and processes and help assess the potential for larger scale rollouts in the future,” he said.

AFN has contacted Cargill and Yum China to confirm if their partnership will continue despite the trials with Beyond Meat.

NASDAQ-listed Beyond Meat reported its Q1 results last month. While net revenue of $97.1 million was down slightly on the previous quarter – driven mainly by Covid-19’s negative impact on the global foodservice sector – the company also saw gross profit rise by 13% to $37.7 million, leaving a gross margin of 39%. This was due to increased sales volumes, production yield improvements, and cost savings.

Most of its revenues are still derived from the US. But Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown has been vocal about the company’s ambitions in Asia, having set a goal of establishing a production footprint on the ground somewhere in the region before the end of the year.

In April, Beyond Meat made its first foray into China, partnering with Starbucks to provide plant-based protein for the coffee chain’s local menu items.

Speaking at the time of the company’s Q1 report, Brown gave a positive assessment of the Starbucks partnership, saying it had produced “great results on social [media] regarding consumer acceptance of the product.”

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter at @jacknwellis

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