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Zrou and USource partnership to boost plant-based meat distribution in North China

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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Traditional antique market in Tianjin

Shanghai-based plant-based meats company Youkuai Group International has signed a strategic partnership with Beijing food distributor USource to boost the availability of its meat alternatives brand Zrou in North China.

Both companies will work together to increase the supply of alternative proteins in the country, supplying Zrou products to a selection of popular diners, hotels, breweries and other food spaces in Beijing and the coastal city of Tianjin. USource has previously supplied products in China from popular plant-based brands Zhenmeat and Beyond Meat.

Founded in 2019, Zrou has worked with several local chefs to develop plant-based versions of popular Chinese cuisine. Its most popular products include minced meat, burgers, meat patties, and chicken nuggets.

In 2021, the brand announced a strategic alliance with major hospitality company Accor Group, helping the brand launch its products in the dining sector. According to its own estimations, the products have been sold in over 160 locations across 18 cities, including corporate and school canteens, restaurants, and luxury hotels.

“We’re extremely excited to roll out Zrou to our existing customers, who demand the highest quality products,” Will Kerins, Usource’s co-founder said in a statement. “Zrou’s brand and products have been on our radar since they started, and we believe their latest product iterations are the tastiest in the market. Given Zrou’s product quality and brand strength, we’re extremely excited to bring them on board and offer them to our customers. “

The announcement of the new alliance comes as USource works to build the production line for Grassroots, which it says is China’s first plant-based cheese brand. “Grassroots is in the process of building out its production capabilities for products including shredded mozzarella, sliced cheddar, chèvre, and dulce de leche, among others,” added Kerins.

“This is the start of a new food movement, and it’s going to be driven by better products at great value for the Chinese customer,” concluded Franklin Yao, Founder and CEO of Youkuai. “Finding partners that care about the entire customer experience as much as we do continue us on a path to addressing food safety and food security, one dish at a time.”

The alternative protein sector in China has been growing for some time now, seeing a huge increase in the number of start-ups and investment in the area.

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