Plant-based meat alternatives have become the latest hot ticket in China.
On the heels of the rollout of a number of foreign-made meat substitutes in the country, Swiss food giant Nestle has announced plans to build its first plant-based food factory in China. The announcement is part of a 100 million Swiss franc ($104 million) investment to strengthen its capability in a country with an estimated 50 million vegetarians and where the spend on protein derived from some vegetarian sources is expected to see double-digit growth.
The Swiss food giant will build the plant in Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) and is expected to launch its first products by the end of this year, according to a statement released on Wednesday. Nestle didn’t provide more specifics, but the term “plant-based” foods often refers to meat substitutes and other similar products targeted at vegetarians and more broadly at health-conscious consumers.
The announcement comes at a time when some global food and beverage companies are scrambling to launch their plant-based offerings in China, as the country sees some of the highest prices in years for pork, the nation’s favorite meat, partly due to the devastating African swine fever outbreak and the continuing Sino-U.S. trade war.
In April, coffee chain Starbucks unveiled a vegetarian menu featuring beef and pork alternative products from imitation meat makers Beyond Meat and OmniPork for its China locations. Fast-food chain KFC also announced it is trialing its veggie chicken nuggets in the country with U.S. agricultural giant Cargill.
China’s “free from meat” market, which includes fake meat products, is likely to reach $11.9 billion by 2023, CNBC reported, citing statistics from market research firm Euromonitor.
As part of the investment plan, Nestle will also expand the production capacity of its existing Purina PetCare factory in TEDA and will add new production lines to make Veterinary Diet and Wet Cat Food products.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)