China's Dicos adds plant-based egg from U.S. firm Eat Just to fast food menus

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - U.S. startup Eat Just Inc said on Wednesday that Dicos, 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 like breakfast burgers and bagels with the U.S. firm’s ‘Just Egg’ - made from mung beans - at restaurants in cities including Beijing and Shanghai, Eat Just’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer 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. Euromonitor International, a market research provider, predicted China’s meat substitutes market would be worth $12.3 billion by 2025 up from $10.8 billion in 2020.

Tetrick didn’t disclose financial terms of Eat Just’s deal with Dicos, but he said the COVID-19 pandemic had renewed concerns about domestic food safety in China. “There is more awareness in China on safety, on clean protein and protein free of antibiotics,” said Tetrick. He said his company was in talks with other Chinese restaurant chains to supply Just Egg.

Dicos confirmed its cooperation with Eat Just on social media platform Weibo on Wednesday, stating it was “an innovative new food that helped to support sustainable development for humanity in future”. Dicos launched vegan chicken burgers and nuggets in October last year. Brands like 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.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell