According to Reuters, demand for plant-based protein foods is surging in Asia as suspicion over possible links between wild animal meat and the new coronavirus drives some consumers, particularly in Hong Kong and mainland China, to rethink diets.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, consultancy Euromonitor last year predicted China’s “free from meat” market, including plant-based products meant to replace meat, would be worth nearly $12 billion by 2023, up from just under $10 billion in 2018.

China remains the world’s biggest consumer of meat, with a retail value equal to roughly $170 billion annually, according to Euromonitor. On that scale, meat will dwarf alternative products for many years to come. But David Yeung, founder of Hong Kong–based Green Monday, which supplies products from Beyond Meat across Asia, says his company’s online sales have more than doubled in the last two months.

JUST, a San Francisco-based company that makes egg products from mung beans, says its sales of JUST Egg on Chinese e-commerce platforms and Tmall have surged 30% since the coronavirus outbreak.

At Impossible Foods, Nick Halla, senior vice president for international, said China’s need for meat options was growing rapidly, and the country is their most important target market globally.

Meanwhile, restaurant firm Yum China’s KFC chain will sell plant-based fried chicken for the first time in China at three outlets in a promotion taking place April 28–30. The nuggets will be supplied by Cargill.

And Starbucks said on April 20 it would roll out a new plant-based lunch menu in China this week, launching Beyond Meat’s products. 

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