Beyond Beef, a product from US producer Beyond Meat, is used to make pasta, burgers and other dishes. CHINA DAILY Vegetable-based alternatives increasingly popular At the end of this month, a plant-based meat substitute producer with headquarters in the United States will complete construction of its first factory in China, which is due to start production early next year. Beyond Meat is the first international plant-based meat brand to open a factory in the country. Located in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, it is one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced factories for such products. The company plans to start building a second facility in Zhejiang next year. As the name suggests, plant-based meat substitutes are made from plants and especially designed to look, taste and cook like real meat. These vegetable-based alternatives, which are growing in popularity, can be made into burgers, nuggets and sausages, for example. Candy Chan, China general manager of Beyond Meat, said the company views Asia as a key region for long-term growth. "With global meat consumption rising, there is a growing demand for more plant-based meat in China. This provides a unique opportunity for Beyond Meat, as Chinese consumers are becoming more conscious of the meat they eat," she said. In addition to international plant-based meat alternative brands, more local startups have emerged this year, tapping into a growing market in China amid rising consumer appetite for healthy and nutritious food. From fast food chains to Michelin-starred restaurants, from supermarkets to online shopping platforms, more Chinese customers are being attracted to plant-based diets. Chinese meat substitute brands are focusing more on customized and innovative products with a range of flavors. According to a report published this month by research company MarketsandMarkets, the global plant-based meat market is estimated to be worth $4.3 billion this year and is projected to reach $8.3 billion by 2025. The report said that in the Asia Pacific region, plant-based food products are gaining popularity as more people adopt healthy lifestyles and consumers opt for natural ingredients. Since entering the Chinese market in April, Beyond Meat has expanded nationwide. Coffee chain Starbucks added plant-based beef lasagna produced with Beyond Beef, a product made by Beyond Meat, to its menus, while two months later, fast-food chain KFC China launched trials of its first Beyond Beef burger. In July, Beyond Meat launched its burgers in retail outlets, including Metro and Freshippo, while in November, Beyond Pork was released－a new product created especially for the Chinese market.