US startup Eat Just Inc has said that Dicos, which is one of China's largest fast food chains, has added plant-based egg product supplied by the San Francisco firm to menus at more than 500 outlets across China.
Dicos will replace its conventional egg patty in items such as breakfast burgers and bagels with the US firm's "Just Egg", which is made from mung beans, at restaurants in cities including Beijing and Shanghai, Eat Just's co-founder and CEO, Josh Tetrick, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Though still a tiny business compared to China's giant animal based supply chain, vegetarian alternatives to meat, dairy and seafood are rapidly gaining in popularity.
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Market research provider Euromonitor International predicted that China's meat substitutes market will be worth $12.3 billion by 2025, up from $10.8 billion in 2020.
Tetrick did not disclose financial terms of Eat Just's deal with Dicos, but he said that the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed concerns about domestic food safety in China.
"There is more awareness in China on safety, on clean protein and protein free of antibiotics," Tetrick said. He said that his company is in talks with other Chinese restaurant chains to supply Just Egg.
Dicos confirmed its cooperation with Eat Just on social media platform Weibo, stating that it is "an innovative new food that helped to support sustainable development for humanity in future". Dicos launched vegan chicken burgers and nuggets in October of last year.
An Aim To Pull In More Curious And Environmentally Conscious Diners
Brands such as Starbucks Corp, KFC, Beyond Meat Inc and Oatly rolled out plant based food and beverage offerings in China last year, in an aim to pull in more curious and environmentally conscious diners.