Global food and beverage giant Nestle has recently launched its first plant-based line, Harvest Gourmet. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Global food and beverage giant Nestle has recently launched its first plant-based line – both for retail and for the catering sector — in China, with tailor-made recipes based on Chinese culinary needs as part of efforts to bank on rising demand from consumers in the country.

The products are manufactured at Nestle’s first plant-based production line in Asia, which is located in Tianjin and has resumed full operations.

The facility will primarily manufacture a wide variety of plant-based products for the food service industry under the Harvest Gourmet brand.

The high-tech plant-based products are set to enhance Chinese quality of life and promote sustainable development, according to the company’s top executives.

Rashid Qureshi, chairman & CEO of Nestle China, said China is an essential global market with a long and distinguished food culture.

“Nestlé is committed not only to bringing cutting-edge technology and high-quality products to China, but also ensuring they are localized to the needs of Chinese consumers and the wider society,” he said.

Nini Chiang, chief marketing officer of Nestlé China and head of confectionary and plant-based food, said there is a surge in interest among Chinese consumers for healthy, flavorsome and environmentally-friendly meat alternatives in 2020.

According to a 2019 survey by GlobalData, 84 percent of Chinese consumers seek a balanced and flexible diet that helps them stay healthy as well as look and feel good, making them ideal candidates for plant-based meat alternatives that retain all the flavor of actual meat.

Plant-based food remains a brand-new market in China.

Harvest Gourmet plant-based products have focused on imitating the taste of pork and chicken, which are most popular within the Chinese culinary spectrum.

On the retail side, Harvest Gourmet’s official flagship store will officially open on Tmall this month, with plans afoot to gradually enter HemaFresh stores in Beijing and Shanghai starting from the end of 2020.

Altug Guven, senior vice-president of Nestle Professional in China, said many consumers tend to have their first “plant-based food” experience in an out-of-home environment, such as a restaurant or café.

Therefore, the launch of products for food service customers forms a crucial part of Harvest Gourmet’s category strategy, he added.

Harvest Gourmet products for individual retail consumers include chicken nuggets, kung pao chicken, braised meatballs, braised pork belly, sausages and have been designed to cater to the Chinese diet in three main scenarios: family dinners, late-night overtime and three-generation families.

The four brand-new plant-based products aimed at the food service space are Harvest Gourmet’s plant-based burger patties, chicken nuggets, beef mince and pork mince.