FILE PHOTO: A Cargill logo is pictured on the Provimi Kliba and Protector animal nutrition factory in Lucens, Switzerland, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill said on Thursday it will introduce a range of plant-based food products to China following a successful trial of plant-based nuggets by Yum Holdings (YUMC.N) KFC.

The nuggets, said to match the texture and taste of meat, were available in three KFC outlets, in the cities of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, from April 28 to April 30 and were quickly sold out, said Cargill.

It plans to offer more plant-based products to the food service sector and also introduce a consumer brand called PlantEver at the end of June with both online and offline retailers.

Some producers of plant-based protein foods say demand is surging as the new coronavirus drives some consumers to rethink their diets.

Demand had already been growing, with consultancy Euromonitor predicting last year that China’s “free from meat” market, including plant-based products meant to replace meat, would be worth nearly $12 billion by 2023, up from just under $10 billion in 2018.

Leading coffee chain Starbucks(SBUX.O) has also recently included Beyond Meat Inc’s (BYND.O) products in a new plant-based lunch menu in China.

“The launch is just the beginning and we look forward to continuing to innovate,” said Jackson Chan, managing director of Cargill Protein China.

Cargill is one of the world’s top meat producers. It also raises and processes poultry in China.

Reporting by Dominique Patton

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