Beyond Meat announced that it would launch an online store in China as the plant-based protein market in the country is slowly gaining attraction.
Beyond Meat will team up with the e-commerce platform JD.com and plan to deliver its products to 300 cities.
Beyond Meat to Expand to China
Beyond Meat and its rival Impossible Foods are both eyeing the Chinese market, but both companies are aware that it takes more than just importing their ideas.
In 2020, Nestle introduced Harvest Gourmet, a brand that offers non-meat nuggets, burgers, pork belly, and kung pao chicken. The Harvest Gourmet products are available through Tmail and the Hema grocery store chain.
Both Nestle and Beyond Meat have built manufacturing sites in Tianjin and Jiaxing, China, as they set to compete with local faux-meat companies such as Starfield and Zhenmeat, according to Reuters.
The increase in interest in plant-based products can now be seen across Asia.
Eat Just, another faux-meat manufacturer, received approval from Singapore regulators to sell its chicken replacement made from animal cells in a laboratory, according to TechCrunch.
Meanwhile, the NR Instant Produce of Thailand announced the success of a fake pork product made from jackfruit. In June, Philippine food company Monde Nissin expressed its interest in expanding its line of plant-based meat products.
Recreating Asian Dishes
While many plant-based products are based on Western cuisine, Beyond Meat has said that it is creating new products that it will add on JD.com to appeal to its Chinese customers.
The company said that it plans to release its version of the lion's head meatballs and pork dumplings.
These dishes are very popular in China, but they can be challenging to reverse engineer since the pork flavor is subtle and sophisticated, according to Dr. Dong-Fang Chen, a scientist that works for the Swiss firm Firmenich.
Dr. Chen's team has delivered numerous client briefs focused on meaty dishes, including pork dumplings and chicken nuggets.
What Dr. Chen and his team do is figure out why the original product tastes the way it does.
They replace the building blocks such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates with plant-derived counterparts. They then combine them to mirror the taste of the original product.
The process could take days, especially if they already have a solution prepared. However, the research takes months, and it takes twelve people with different forms of expertise like chemists, formulators, and flavorists to work on them.
Dr. Chen said that the length of the research depends on the product they are trying to replicate. In the case of pork dumplings, the research may take longer than usual.
Since the demand for plant-based alternatives is growing, Dr. Chen's team of research scientists has increased over the past decade, and he believes that it will continue to increase in the next couple of years.
The expansion of Beyond Meat in China could trigger a revolution of using science to give people healthier options.
Related Article: Lab-Grown Meat Can Now be Sold as Chicken Bites in Singapore
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Written by Sophie Webster