Chinese state-backed food companies are seeking out safe, animal-free protein options in the wake of the coronavirus, according to reports.
JUST Inc., which makes its plant-based JUST Egg alternative from mung beans, says it has received inquiries from some of the country’s biggest food producers.
The company currently sells its plant-based eggs in some outlets and online in China currently.
JUST Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick told Bloomberg: “Some of the biggest companies, larger food manufacturers, including some that are backed by the state government, are proactively reaching out to me personally, our executive team, our board, and the team in China, about now wanting to partner.
Bloomberg adds that Tetrick said ‘authorities are trying to think about how to reduce the risk of future outbreaks by curbing China’s reliance on meat from confined animals’.
Possible source of the outbreak
This follows wet markets – where live animals are freshly slaughtered and kept in close proximity to humans and dead animals – being identified as a possible source of the virus spread.
It is believed the virus started at a wet market in Wuhan in early December. According to The Humane Society’s president Kitty Block, market vendors were selling ‘live cats and dogs, turtles, snakes, rats, hedgehogs and marmots’, and ‘menus and signboards posted online also listed foxes, wolf cubs, monkeys and masked palm civets, among other animals’.
In a bid to crack down on the spread of the virus, the country has reportedly shut down 20,000 wildlife farms – which breed animals including wild geese, boar, porcupines, peacocks and civet cats among others.