Beyond Meat launches online store in China on e-commerce firm JD.com

Beyond Beef meatballs. Source: Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat said on Thursday it has launched an online store in China on ecommerce company JD.com, as the plant-based meatmaker aims to boost sales in the world’s biggest meat market where consumer interest in meat alternatives is low.

U.S.-based Beyond Meat said the JD.com store will initially help expand availability of its products in four major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, and eventually in 300 cities across China.

Its products are currently mainly available in China through its partnerships with Starbucks Corp, Yum China Holdings Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Freshippo markets.

But expanding into the retail segment by selling on JD.com will help it reach a wider audience in the country, which is increasingly purchasing fresh food online.

Online sales in China of fresh food, into which category Beyond Meat‘s products fall, are expected to top 300 billion yuan ($46.40 billion) this year, an increase of 18% from 2020, according to consultancy iiMedia Research.

Beyond Meat‘s direct retail foray follows a similar move by Nestle in December, which launched a range of plant-based burgers, sausages, nuggets and dishes suited to Chinese cooking. The push by global firms comes even as consumers in China are not exactly devouring plant-based meat.

“Currently it is a solo dance by the manufacturers, the consumers are not joining the tango,” said Zhu Danpeng, an independent food industry analyst. A recent poll on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, found only 14% of 400 participants were willing to try plant-based meat.

Chinese consumers are deterred by concerns over food safety as well as taste, said Zhu. Beyond Meat, which has set up its first manufacturing plant outside of the United States in the eastern Chinese city of Jiaxing, near Shanghai, declined to comment on its sales in the market so far. A 0.454 kg twin pack of plant-based beef will be sold at 210 yuan on the company’s JD store.

By comparison, one kg of good quality domestic beef costs about 140 yuan on JD’s fresh food platform. Beyond Meat is also adding Beyond Pork to its offering on JD.com, which has been created for the pork-loving Chinese market. It will also sell ingredients that are used in the cooking of local dishes such as stir-fry, dumplings, mapo tofu, zhajiang noodles and lion’s head meatballs to appeal to Chinese consumers.

Reuters

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.