Beyond Meat expands international reach with first end-to-end manufacturing facility outside the US: 'We're committed to investing in China as a region for long-term growth'

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Beyond Meat has set up partnerships with leading foodservice brands in China over the past year. Pictures courtesy of Beyond Meat
Beyond Meat has set up partnerships with leading foodservice brands in China over the past year. Pictures courtesy of Beyond Meat

Related tags: Beyond meat, plant-based meat

Beyond Meat has opened its first end-to-end manufacturing facility outside the US in the Jiaxing Economic & Technological Development Zone (JXEDZ) near Shanghai.

The plant – which will produce Beyond Meat’s plant-based pork, beef and poultry products, including Beyond Pork​ (created specifically for the Chinese market) – is expected to improve its cost structure and sustainability metrics, said CEO Ethan Brown.

The opening of our dedicated plant-based meat facility in China ​[which will make its extrudate and finished products] marks a significant milestone in Beyond Meat’s ability to effectively compete in one of the world’s largest meat markets. We are committed to investing in China as a region for long-term growth, and we believe this new manufacturing facility will be instrumental in advancing our pricing and sustainability metrics.”

The announcement about the facility - which also features R&D capabilities - comes a year after Beyond Meat entered mainland China via a partnership with Starbucks. It has since partnered with KFC, Pizza Hut, Jindingxuan, GangLi Beijing, Slow Boat Brewery, Hema, METRO China and others.  

The opening of the new Jiaxing plant is expected to enable us to quicken the pace of innovation and roll out our products at the speed and scale needed to remain highly competitive within the region​,” said Candy Chan, General Manager for Beyond Meat in China.

Beyond Meat - which works with a co-packer (Zandbergen) to produce burgers and sausages in Zoeterwoude in the Netherlands - will open its first owned manufacturing facility in Europe in Enschede, also in the Netherlands, this year.

'​When people grab a plant-based burger, they are making an assumption in their mind that this is going to be healthier'

El-Segundo, CA-based Beyond Meat posted a modest 3.5% increase in net revenues to $101.9m in the fourth quarter, with solid growth in retail (from around 62,000 stores) dented by double-digit declines in foodservice (from around 60,000 outlets).

In the full year (ended Dec 31, 2020), it posted a 36.6% rise in net revenues to $406.8m, and a $52.8m net loss.

In the spring, Beyond Meat is replacing its flagship burger with two new variations: a “juicier and meatier​” burger featuring 35% less saturated fat than 80/20 beef burgers, and its “most nutritious patty yet​,” featuring 55% less saturated fat. Both will contain added B vitamins, Brown told analysts in February.

"When people grab a plant-based burger, they are making an assumption in their mind that this is going to be healthier, and we need to be true to that."

The company has also made improvements to the process that improve the sensory experience, he said: "There's a more animalic umami taste, and ... the second area is .... finding ways to distribute fat within the product."

Both burgers have undergone "extensive consumer testing with excellent results,"​ said Brown, who said the launches will be accompanied by a "robust marketing program that emphasizes great taste and heath benefits."

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