About a year after Beyond Meat made its Chinese debut on Starbucks’ menu, the California-based plant-based protein company opened a production site near Shanghai to tap into the country’s supply chain resources and potentially reduce the carbon footprint of its products.
Located in Jiaxing, a city 85 km from Shanghai, the plant is the first end-to-end manufacturing facility for Beyond Meat outside the United States, the Nasdaq-listed company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Over the past year, competition has grown fierce in the alternative protein space in China with the foray of foreign players like Beyond Meat and Eat Just, as well as a series of capital injections for startups. national, notably Hey Maet and Starfield.
Beyond Meat doesn’t shy away from rivalry. When asked by TechCrunch to comment on a story about the alternative protein scene in China, a company representative said, “There isn’t one that Beyond Meat sees as its competition.”
China not only has a huge unsaturated market for meat substitutes; it is also a major supplier of vegetable proteins. Chinese meat-substitute startups enjoy a cost advantage upfront and are not lacking in interest from investors rushing to support consumer products that more reflect the tastes of the rising middle class.
So having some sort of manufacturing capability in China is almost a prerequisite for any serious foreign player. Tesla has already done this to build Gigafactory in Shanghai to provide cheaper electric vehicles. Localized production also helps companies achieve their sustainability goals as it shortens the supply chain.
In Beyond Meat’s own words, the Jiaxing facility is expected to “dramatically increase the speed and scale with which the company can produce and distribute its products in the region, while improving Beyond Meat’s cost structure and the sustainability of operations ”.
The US food tech giant is working hard on localization, selling in China both its flagship burger patties and an imitation ground pork product made specifically for the world’s largest pork consumer. The soybean and rice-based ground pork could be used in a wide range of Chinese cuisines and is the result of a collaboration between the company’s teams in Shanghai and Los Angeles.
Besides production, the Jiaxing factory will also take R&D responsibilities to invent new products for the region. Beyond Meat will also unveil its first manufacturing facility in Europe this year.
“We are committed to investing in China as a region of long-term growth,” said Ethan Brown, CEO and Founder of Beyond Meat. “We believe this new manufacturing facility will help advance our pricing and sustainability metrics as we seek to provide Chinese consumers with delicious plant-based proteins that are good for people and the planet.”
Beyond Meat products can now be found in Starbucks, KFC, Alibaba’s Hema supermarket, and other retail channels in major Chinese cities.