A year after successful trials on the menu of Starbucks China, U.S. plant-based meat company Beyond Meat has commenced operations at a local manufacturing facility close to Shanghai. The newly opened facility is Beyond Meat’s first end-to-end manufacturing operation outside of the United States and is “expected to significantly increase the speed and scale in which the company can produce and distribute its products within the region while also improving Beyond Meat’s cost structure and sustainability of operations.”

Beyond Meat sees a strong future in China, where consumer interest is growing in plant-based meat alternatives. The company’s Starbucks China debut was met positively by consumers, and swiftly followed by debuts on the menus at local KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut outlets – all operated by Yum China Holdings. More recently, a number of home-grown plant-based meat companies like Zhenmeat, Hey Maet and Starfield have received capital investment, signalling that interest in the sector is not just limited to consumers.

The Chinese market represents a large opportunity for both local and international plant-based meat companies, although Chinese companies with local facilities have until now enjoyed a competitive cost advantage. “The opening of our dedicated plant-based meat facility in China marks a significant milestone in Beyond Meat’s ability to effectively compete in one of the world’s largest meat markets,” said Ethan Brown, CEO and Founder of Beyond Meat.

“We are committed to investing in China as a region for long-term growth, and we believe this new manufacturing facility will be instrumental in advancing our pricing and sustainability metrics as we seek to provide Chinese consumers with delicious plant-based proteins that are good for both people and planet.” The new facility will produce Beyond Meat’s range of plant-based pork, beef and poultry products, including Beyond Pork™, the company’s first product created specifically for the Chinese market.

READ MORE: Beyond Meat opens its first production plant in China (Tech Crunch)