Shares of Beyond Meat (BYND -0.42%) are rocketing higher after Starbucks (SBUX 0.72%) announced it will be on the menu in China starting Wednesday.

Starbucks' Chinese operations are normalizing after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily closed many locations. But for Beyond Meat, it's the next step toward its goal of becoming a global protein company.

A historic Chinese building against a modern backdrop.

Image source: Getty Images.

China's importance to both companies

In January, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson outlined the company's commitment to sustainability. At the top of his list was offering more plant-based menu items. In February, it delivered on that commitment by partnering with Beyond Meat to launch a breakfast sandwich in Canada. Now, Beyond Meat will featured in three different menu items in China, where Starbucks operates over 4,000 restaurant locations.

Beyond Beef will be in a pasta dish, lasagna, and a tortilla wrap. Starbucks didn't indicate that these would be limited-time menu items.

However, Beyond Meat isn't the only plant-based meat company looking to find growth in China. In addition to offering Beyond Meat beef-alternative items, Starbucks' Chinese menu will feature a pork alternative called OmniPork, made by privately held Green Monday. 

For Starbucks, the new menu items could play an important role in drawing customers back. About 95% of Starbucks' China locations have reopened, but sales were still down 42% as of the company's most recent update.

This news also fulfills Beyond Meat's CEO Ethan Brown promise. After reporting 2019 earnings, Brown said the company was committed to entering the Chinese market in 2020.