Eat Just announced this week its plant-based egg products have landed on the menu of Discos, one of China’s leading fast-food chains. More importantly, Discos won’t just be offering the JUST egg alongside animal-based eggs. According to a press release sent to The Spoon, the JUST egg will outright replace its traditional counterpart in several menu items.
Plant-based foods on QSR menus aren’t new — in fact, they’re arguably standard fare at this point. Eat Just’s news is, however, the first time a major quick-service chain has completely switched out an animal-based protein for a plant-based version, which could signal a new shift for the direction of QSR menus over the next several years.
Discos will start the switchover with 500 locations across Bejing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Dalian, Changchun, Harbin and Hainan provinces. (The chain has roughly 2,600 stores across 32 provinces in China.) The JUST egg will be in three different breakfast burgers, three breakfast bagel sandwiches, and on a western-style breakfast plate.
Discos’ full shift to plant-based eggs also seems a long-term strategic play for the brand. Demand for plant-based meat in China is expected increase by 200 percent over the next five years, according to a December 2020 study by DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. According to the firm, the change is “driven by consumer values around health, taste, and sustainability.”
The JUST egg, meanwhile, has been available in China since 2019 in both retail and foodservice businesses, as well as through e-commerce sites Tmall and JD.com.
Discos’ chief marketing officer Xie Yahui suggested in today’s press release that the decision to swap out the chicken egg for a plant-based one was a decision driven by consumer preference: “The introduction of JUST Egg at Discos is a product and brand upgrade based on consumers’ increasing interest in nutrition, healthier diets and environmental awareness,” she said. She added that future menu offerings from Eat Just will be based on consumers’ reactions to these first dishes available.
This swap by Discos most likely isn’t a one-off occurrence. Worldwide, demand for plant-based protein has steadily grown for the last couple years, with 2020 being an all-out banner year for popularity and investment dollars. QSRs, meanwhile, are drastically changing, from their store formats to what’s on the menu. Overhauling the amount of animal-based protein on those menus seems a logical next step, for China and beyond.