Hong Kong (CNN Business)Beyond Meat (BYND) is expanding its reach in China, one burger at a time.
Starting Wednesday, the plant-based protein maker is testing its fake beef burgers with Chinese customers through a new partnership with Yum China (YUMC), which owns some of the country’s most popular fast food chains.
Yum China, which is the local owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, plans to shake up menus across its franchises for a few days this month as part of a test that could lead to a bigger rollout later on.
The test marks the debut of Beyond Meat’s burger in mainland China — a significant step for the California-based company. It previously only offered other alternative meat products in the country.
KFC is rolling out Beyond Burgers at some of its locations Wednesday in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu.
Pizza Hut will also debut the product, which is the chain’s first foray into burgers in China. Diners who belong to Pizza Hut’s loyalty program in Shanghai will get to try a new combo meal that includes both Beyond’s plant-based offering and another burger featuring real steak.
Taco Bell’s offering will be more subtle, with a new taco that folds in Beyond’s burger patty alongside its classic ingredients, such as chipotle and black beans.
Unlike the other tests, Pizza Hut’s program begins next week.
Overall, the tests are fairly limited, running only at a handful of stores from each franchise for a few days. That’s small, considering Yum China has almost 9,300 restaurants across 1,400 cities, including its other brands outside the three fast food chains.
If all goes well, the company will explore “larger scale rollouts in the future,” CEO Joey Wat said in a statement.
Yum China has been working to cash in on the fake meat trend through a series of trials in recent months, including a test of plant-based chicken nuggets at KFC earlier this year and a limited run of plant-based pork tacos at Taco Bell last year.
“We see great potential for the plant-based meat market in China,” Wat added. “This latest introduction across KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands is expected to capture valuable consumer feedback across different regions in China.”
Beyond Meat, meanwhile, has recently made inroads in the vast Chinese market. In April, the company teamed up with Starbucks (SBUX) to offer Chinese customers a lasagne made with its beef substitute.
In a statement this week, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown called the company’s new partnership an “important milestone” in its global ambitions.
The startup’s biggest rival, Impossible Foods, has also signaled plans for a launch in China, and previously said it was looking for partners that could help it enter the market.
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