Beyond Meat continues its expansion in China, this time into the retail sector. The company is bringing its Beyond Burgers to Alibaba’s Heme supermarkets, first in Shanghai, then elsewhere in the country later this year, according to TechCrunch.
Beyond debuted in China earlier this year with a Starbucks partnership, selling its plant-based meat products in cafes across the country. Availability of Beyond products expanded to the Yum China empire, where they were at Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell for a limited time.
The company’s arrival in Alibaba stores is its first foray into retail in China. Though it makes sense. China has the world’s largest population and is also the world’s largest consumer of meat. The Chinese government has been urging citizens for some time now to cut down their meat consumption, which makes China a lucrative market for plant-based meat products.
This move is also the latest salvo in what has been a busy few months of back-and-forth expansion news for both Beyond and its main plant-based rival, Impossible Foods. Impossible launched a direct-to-consumer sales channel at the beginning of June. Shortly after, Beyond released bulk packaging that narrowed the price gap between its burgers and traditional meat. Beyond also announced plans for its own D2C site, which has yet to launch. Then earlier this week, Impossible announced that its Impossible Sausage is now available to all restaurants in the U.S.
This latest deal with Alibaba helps bolster Beyond’s foothold in China. Impossible is not yet in Chinese markets, though the company has suggested in the past it plans to eventually launch products there. As demand for plant-based meat offerings has surged since the start of the global pandemic, it’s a safe bet to expect the back-and-forth news from both companies to continue throughout the year.