Vegan eggs from America cracking Chinese market via fast-food chain?

Business & Technology

JUST Egg, a vegan egg product from Californian startup Eat Just, is going to be served at more than 500 branches of Dicos, a leading Chinese fast-food chain.

Image from Eat Just.

China’s hunger for plant-based meat alternatives is growing, and the latest company striving to meet that demand is Eat Just, a California-based startup that produces eggs — without the chickens. The company recently announced that its entirely plant-based egg product, JUST Egg, which is made from mung beans and is cholesterol-free, will be served at Dicos, one of the largest fast-food chains in China and a leading competitor of KFC’s. 

The Tianjin-based Dicos operates 2,600 stores across China, more than 500 of which will now feature JUST Egg on the menu. 

  • At these locations, which are spread out across major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Guangzhou, and Harbin, the egg patties served inside the chain’s breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burgers, and Western-style breakfast plates will be plant-based. 

This is likely only the beginning of Eat Just’s entry into China, the country that holds the title for largest producer and consumer of eggs in the world.

  • “To have a leading quick service restaurant exchange an animal-based product for a plant-based product across several of its regular menu offerings is a first in the industry,” said Patrick Morris, CEO of Eat Beyond, an investment issuer specializing in alternative food source portfolio companies, one of which is Eat Just.
  • In 2020, Eat Just launched an Asia subsidiary in partnership with Proterra Investment Partners Asia, an investment management firm that specializes in agribusiness. This includes developing an Eat Just factory in Singapore, which will be the startup’s very first factory in Asia.
  • Eat Just already has a presence in Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, and was also already selling products in mainland China through ecommerce channels on Tmall and JD.com. In April 2020, Reuters reported that JUST Egg’s sales had surged by 30% on those two platforms since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Chinese interest in vegan meat alternatives is showing no signs of slowing down. According to estimates by Dupont Nutrition & Biosciences, demand for plant-based meat is expected “to increase by 200% over the next five years, driven by consumer values around health, taste and sustainability.” 

  • This isn’t the first time Dicos has introduced plant-based meat alternatives onto its menu. Last year, the chain unveiled an imitation chicken burger made by the Shenzhen-based artificial meat firm Starfield.

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