business

Beyond Meat shelves plans for Japan push, Mitsui says

15 Comments

Beyond Meat Inc has shelved plans to enter Japan, according to a Japan-based investor, focusing more on the U.S. market where it recently bolstered funding to fuel an expansion and beat out emerging faux-meat rivals.

Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd, which bought a small stake in Beyond Meat in 2016, said it previously planned to partner with the U.S. company to sell plant-based meat alternatives in Japan, but there was no longer such a project.

A Beyond Meat spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment, while a Mitsui spokeswoman declined to give a reason for the change, adding that future expansion in Japan was still possible.

El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat sells pea-based burgers and sausages at restaurants and in supermarkets, and its shares have surged around 550% since their May IPO on expectations for growing demand for meat alternatives. It has also followed on with a secondary offering, which closed last week.

The company faces competition from Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods and alternative products from more traditional companies such as Tyson Foods Inc and Perdue Foods. It has also grappled with production capacity issues and interruptions in the supply of pea protein.

Average Japanese consumers generally eat less meat than Americans and their cuisine features items like tofu, but vegan and vegetarian diets are uncommon.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Can’t wait to go back to the states and try the Impossible Whopper at Burger King. Hopefully the Impossible company will bring their products to Japan if Beyond Meat is unwilling to do so

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan will aways be late to the party which is why they haven't been a leader in any major industry in decades. Right now with the technology in its infant stages, it still too expensive to produce this Beyond Meat or lab-grown meat for the masses. The only financially sound business model at the moment is an insect farm, but you have to overcome the public's perception of consuming insects for protein.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What a shame, I am so keen to try this. Since Tofurkey left Japan, there are fewer choices for shaped, ready-made meat-substitutes.

I would probably avoid Impossible Meat products for now, as they tested on animals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I haven't tried Impossible, but I do enjoy the Beyond Meat burgers at A&W when traveling home, and am very disappointed that Mitsui is not bringing them here sooner.

I recently tried ZeroMeat by Otsuka Foods. https://zeromeat.jp.

I had the cheese version. The texture is ok but the sauce it's flavored with reminds me of Chuckwagon Dinner - a canned stew we occasionally had when I was a kid. I won't buy that again. I would be open to trying a sauce-less version that I could grill myself over the BBQ, but I doubt they'll release that.

Has anyone tried the ZeroMeat sausages?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I had one of the beyond meat burgers recently. It was ok - definitely very meat like.

But I'm ok with meat. So I'll stick to regular beef.

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Saw a Pakkun segment on TV Tokyo the other day, he made the interesting point that these plant based meats are said to require less CO2 to produce, and thus it's kind of a play on trying to counter climate change. I'm good with life forms consuming other life forms, so this climate change angle struck me as a decent reason to think about eating this stuff.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Impossible Whopper is amazing from what I have heard. I have tried the Impossible Burger at chain restaurants local to where I live and the texture is spot on to real beef, more so than Beyond Beef.

From what I see the concept of veganism or even alternative meats was never remotely popular in Japan. It has nothing to do with Japan being 'behind the times,' and everything to do with personal taste. Meat consumption in fact has been rising at a fast rate, over 20% more meat is consumed in Japan now than 20 years ago. In fact consumption of meat has overtaken consumption of seafood this year. When you look at Japanese cooking, yes, there are a lot of vegetables and items like tofu, but there is also a lot of meat and seafood in the diet. Fish, steak, Korean BBQ, hamburgers, etc.

It's going to be a hard sell to market fake meat in a country like Japan or China outside of the very small vegan communities abroad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just goes to show that if you put enough ketchup on, anything can taste good.

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From what I see the concept of veganism or even alternative meats was never remotely popular in Japan.

What about shojin ryori? Not everyday food for most, sure, but it was there.

The (very interesting in this context) article linked below points out that eating meat was banned in Japan in 675 AD by the Emperor Tenmu, and that the ban lasted for pretty much 1200 years. Vegetables, fish and seafood kept people going. No meat for most until Meiji, and not really part of most people's diet until after WW2.

"Alternative meats" - never understood why you'd need or want them. Vegetarian (not vegan), or meat/fish three times or week or so. I can't see the point in buying a meat substitute.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/japan-meat-ban

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Apart from health, reasons for becoming vegetarian or vegan are animal welfare, concern for the environment and religion. It comes as no surprise that veganism is extremely uncommon in Japan.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@oldman_13

From what I see the concept of veganism or even alternative meats was never remotely popular in Japan. It has nothing to do with Japan being 'behind the times,' and everything to do with personal taste. Meat consumption in fact has been rising at a fast rate, 

The post-war revision of Japanese diet was deliberately motivated by the USA serving US meat and diary interests leading to a huge food security issue within Japan (reliance on foreign imports).

There's still pressure on Japan to change its diet to an unsustainable one to suit their financial interests going on.

The traditional Japanese diet, although it varied from region to region, was very largely plant based, with a very small amount of fish/seafood/wild food by the necessity of what the land could produce.

Buffalos were for tractors, not eating.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pea-based? I'd be in the bathroom for a while. Black bean is, IMHO, the better choice - for taste and for continence.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you're ever in the States, Freddy's has the best veggie (Black bean-based) burger.

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@Silvafan

Japan will aways be late to the party which is why they haven't been a leader in any major industry in decades.

Seitan?

I could never work out a need for fake meats except perhaps for the sake of marketing to cultures with heavy meat intake.

But if it helps heavy meat eaters go cold turkey from their environmental destructive and abuse causing diets, then all the better.

Actually, from the Buddhist influence there are many simple, food based "meat" alternatives made out of yam, beans, grains etc without any need for a high tech industry.

They would not satisfy ignorant burger chauvinists but really it's beyond time for them to wean themselves off their indulgence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meat is one of the worst environmentally unfriendly foods to buy...

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