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Beyond Meat, with two Nets investors, gets China market boost from Alibaba

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Beyond Meat, whose investors have included Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, will get a boost in the lucrative China market from Alibaba, Joe Tsai’s giant e-commerce company.

Beyond Meat announced Tuesday that Alibaba’s Freshippo grocery stores would start selling its meatless burger patties, marking its first entry into supermarkets in mainland China.

Specifically, the company announced that its signature product, Beyond Burgers, will be available at 50 Freshippo locations in Shanghai starting Saturday. By September, the patties will also be available at an additional 48 locations in Beijing and Hangzhou. Beyond Meat has been available elsewhere in China since April.

“We know that retail will be a critical part of our success in China, and we’re pleased to mark this early milestone within a few months of our market entry,” CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement.

A number of current and former NBA players, including Irving, Jordan, Chris Paul and Shaquille O’Neal, have invested in the company which uses other forms of protein as substitutes for meat. Irving, in fact, appeared in an early promotional video for the company in February 2019.

Since the suspension of play, both Irving and Jordan have worked with the company to donate hundreds of thousands of Beyond Burgers to communities in need. In March, Irving facilitated the donation of 200,000 Beyond Burgers to the Food Bank, which is New York’s largest hunger relief organization. Then, in April, Jordan partnered with the company to donate 1 million-plus vegan burgers to other food banks and hospitals around the city.

Beyond Meat also has signage at Barclays Center where the company is a sponsor. In November, Stefan Bondy raised the possibility that the company and the Nets had a conflict of interest.

Shares of Beyond closed Tuesday up 1.9% at $133.98. The stock, which has a market value of $8.34 billion, has risen 77% so far in 2020.