South Korea’s plant-based brand UNLIMEAT builds on strong growth in US, fulfils rising demand with new online store

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

UNLIMEAT Kimbap is the plant-based version of Korea’s popular rolled rice dish. ©UNLIMEAT
UNLIMEAT Kimbap is the plant-based version of Korea’s popular rolled rice dish. ©UNLIMEAT

Related tags South korea plant-based Market Upcycling

South Korean plant-based food brand UNILMEAT has opened an online store specially catering to the US market to satisfy consumer demand following positive growth and sold-out launches.

In January last year, UNLIMEAT introduced its plant-based Korean BBQ beef chuck and two pulled pork flavours in over 1,000 Albertsons stores across the US. The firm has also been supplying dumplings and other products to organic produce retailers in Northern California.

It took first place in the plant-based frozen product category at Albertsons stores in March.

According to the firm, the popularity could be attributed to product offerings that differ from the typical plant-based nuggets, patties and sausages, as well as the “Asian touch” delivered by the use of authentic Korean seasonings and recipes.

For instance, the Original flavour of the pulled pork contains a sweet and savoury garlic sauce, while the Sweet & Smoky flavour has the scent of charcoal-grilled ribs, a dish representative of Korean cuisine.

Nevertheless, the limited range of products that UNLIMEAT could stock in physical stores prompted it to set up its own online shop.

To boost consumer access to its full line-up, UNLIMEAT has been providing nationwide delivery across the US since November 10.

“We have proactively connected with consumers through initiatives such as operating food trucks and participating in festivals. While customers have expressed satisfaction with our products, many have consistently mentioned the challenges of purchasing them.

“The launch of the online shop is our response to address these consumer needs and establish closer communication with our customers. We hope this serves as an opportunity to engage with a broader audience more effectively and to showcase new products,” ​said Ryan Chung, co-CEO of UNLIMEAT.

A wider selection

UNLIMEAT was born from the idea of reducing waste by repurposing “ugly agricultural produce” that are often discarded due to small size, scratches, and uneven colours.

The firm operates a plant-based meat factory, where various by-products discarded during the food manufacturing process are utilised to create plant-based products rich in nutrients.

These include rice bran, a by-product of brown rice polishing, and defatted soybean powder, which comes from soybean oil extraction.

Filled with plant-based beef or tuna, garlic stems and pickled daikon radish, UNLIMEAT Kimbap is the plant-based version of Korea’s popular rolled rice dish.

“Unlike Japanese sushi, the rice is not seasoned with vinegar, but with salt and sesame oil. By freezing the gimbap, we were able to prevent the seaweed from becoming soggy, and allows for the product to be stored for 12 months. It is ready to eat after just three minutes in the microwave, offering a quick and delightful experience.”

Made from glutinous rice, chapssaruni​ is a gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan cake whose shape resembles a mini bundt cake. Due to its soft and chewy texture, it quickly rose in popularity when it first launched in Korea.

Both the frozen gimbap ​and chapssaruni​ are now available on the US online store.

Going forward, the firm plans to release a variety of K-vegan products beyond plant-based meat and seafood, and limited-edition and collaborative items via the platform.

plant-based jerky

Upgraded jerky

Earlier in October, UNLIMEAT relaunched its plant-based beef jerky on Amazon, a year after the product sold out on the e-commerce platform.

Although well loved by American consumers, jerky products have raised concerns about the use of processed beef and artificial colouring agents.

“Numerous plant-based brands have crafted jerky entirely from plant-based ingredients, such as mushrooms, fruit and kelp, but these often compromise in texture and flavour when compared to animal-based jerky.”

In response, UNLIMEAT has developed a method using soy protein to create a beefy flavour and meaty texture that is “strikingly similar” to traditional animal-based jerky.

“Each bag of jerky contains 31g of protein, and has no trans fat or cholesterol. It is suitable for various specialised diets, including low-carb and paleo diets. The natural colouring comes from beet and pomegranate, while no artificial seasonings, such as MSG, are added.”

In addition, the packaging is now double-layered for added stability, with the jerky enclosed in an aluminium pouch to protect against sunlight and moisture.

“We are thrilled to be back on Amazon with our upgraded gourmet jerky. We dedicated additional time to testing, and developing a safer and healthier product. We hope that not only people on plant-based diets, but also meat lovers, can savour our jerky,” ​Chung shared.

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