By John Saulnier, FFB Editorial Director
May 2 was a day of real achievement for fake meat maker Beyond Meat, as the El Segundo, California-headquartered plant-based protein company’s initial public offering of stock greatly exceeded all expectations. Opening at $46 a share, well above the expected $25 range with an implied market value of $1.46 billion, by the end of the day BYND shares surged 163% to generate a market value of $3.77 billion. The performance proved to be the strongest market debut of the year for any IPO on the Nasdaq Exchange.
That’s extraordinary for such a startup, founded by tech entrepreneur
Ethan Brown, considering that the company lost about $30 million last
year on net sales of almost $88 million, and posted an identical $30
million loss in 2017, when receipts were only $34 million. Then again,
Beyond Meat’s revenue stream increased by 170% in 2018 as the rising
wave of faux meat burger patties that “bleed” with beet juice when
grilled has spread throughout the USA and across the Atlantic.
What’s more, an expanding menu of offerings has brought plant-based
sausage, crumbles and taco filling to the alternative meat platter.
Made largely from yellow peas, Beyond Meat products are now available
in more than 12,000 foodservice outlets, including Carl’s Jr. fast food
joints and TGI Fridays restaurants, and 15,000 grocery stores. A major
supermarket chain carrying the brand is Tesco in the United Kingdom,
which since April 8 has been merchandising vegan foods in the meat
According to the retailer’s website: “The move comes as more and more
Brits reduce their meat consumption, either by turning to a vegan or
vegetarian diet or becoming flexitarian. As a direct result of this and the
popularity of campaigns like ‘Meat-Free Mondays,’ 21% of UK
households have reduced their meat intake.”
Beyond Meat has plenty of competitive company in Tesco stores –
though arch rival Impossible Foods is not yet among them – with
offerings from other vegan and vegetarian food producers also taking
up space. Among them are Heck, Vivera and Vegetarian Butcher.
Optimistic about the growing business, Derek Samo, Tesco’s director of
plant-based innovation, commented: “Plant-based alternatives in
general have become so high in quality that most life-long meat eaters
are now including these foods as part of their diet. It makes sense to
range them next to each other in the same aisle and bring a wider
breadth of options available to choose from.”
The key for faux meat makers to achieve big-time success by seriously
biting into the $1.4 trillion global meat trade is to further expand
demand for plant-based proteins beyond its historic vegetarian and
vegan consumer base. This requires the introduction of more tasty
products that are consumed for flavor rather than for philosophical,
ethical, environmental, political and/or religious reasons.
According to Dan Alschuler Malek of New Crop Capital, a new breed of
entrepreneurial manufactures is seeing the light and could be on a
trajectory path to potentially reap astronomical rewards.
“Technology has played a large part,” he said. “Now we have a
convergence that fulfills the promise of great taste and texture for
Cowless Burger Stampede
Veggie burgers have indeed come a long way, so much so that the
Burger King QSR chain is said to be on the verge of going national with
the Impossible Whopper now being test-marketed in St. Louis, Missouri.
Supplied by Beyond Meat competitor Impossible Foods, another
California “dreamer” of the plant protein revolution, the main
ingredients of the cowless patty are wheat and potato proteins.
The Impossible Whopper has already won a heaping helping of praise
from consumers, including a highly positive review from an unlikely
quarter in the American beef belt.
“This is not just another disgusting tofu burger that only a dedicated
hippie could convince himself to eat,” said Eric Bohl of the Missouri
Farm Bureau. “If I didn’t know what I was eating, I would have no idea it
was not beef.”
He added, in no uncertain terms: “Farmers and ranchers need to take
notice and get ready to compete. I’ve tasted it with my own mouth, and
this fake meat is ready for prime time.”