The meatless burger that bleeds
Beyond Meat has taken the Nasdaq and Wall Street by surprise. The El Segundo California- based company, was earlier this month listed as the most successful IPO of 2019 so far, with shares soaring up 163%, giving them a market value of $3.77 billion. So what is Beyond Meat? It’s the world’s first plant-based meat-free burger that tastes and looks like a real meat burger. Yep. It actually “bleeds.” And there’s no soy, no gluten, and no GMOs.
Here’s the deal
When it launched on Wall Street in February in February 2019, Wall Street went nuts. Share prices were set at $25 a share, but opened on the Nasdaq at $46 and zoomed up as high as 135%, according to CNBC at the time. Eventually, they settled at around $60, after trading was paused for a while because of worries of volatility.
With an impressive list of investors including Bill Gates, Leonardo Dicaprio, former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, they’re ambitious. So far, they are available in 33,000 outlets in the US and have moved into Canada, partnering with A&W, the second largest burger chain after McDonald’s. They’re also in 350 Tesco stores in the UK. They’re also expanding by partnering with distributors in all of Europe and South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, Chile, UAE, Israel, and Australia.
As more of us are embracing a different kind of diet, eschewing meat for a healthier lifestyle, Beyond Meat has succeeded in getting their protein-based products onto the same supermarket shelves as meat, including Walmart. And they’re found in restaurants and hotels too including TGI Fridays and Del Taco. Quite a feat for a no meat, protein-based burger made of peas and Faba beans. Cleverly, they’ve also succeeded in placing the burgers in many of the meat isles of supermarkets, to help attract carnivores as well as vegetarians and vegans. And they don’t stop at burgers. Their range extends to “ground beef” and “beef” patties, too.
The burger is the pinnacle of seven-plus years of work. The company’s mission statement is to “understand meat, its composition, and associated sensory experience, better than anyone on the planet, and then rebuild that directly from plants.” Yet, amid all this excitement and their evident ambition, it’s worth noting that when the company submitted its S-1 filing in February, they warned that they may never be profitable. And the figures seem to back that up, at least in the short term.
Fast forward to 2018
In 2018, they reported $30 million losses, stating: “we have a history of losses and we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability.” Also in 2018, they reported $87.9 in revenue, a 170% increase from the previous year, with plans to reinvest the gains from going public into research and development, marketing, sales, and manufacturing facilities. They tripled their production capacity in 2018 after struggling to keep up with the demand for its products at Whole Foods, and they had to delay their UK launch because they couldn’t keep up with demand.
However, Beyond Meat has arrived at a time when the food industry is changing and adapting to consumer and environmental needs. Plant-based foods may only represent 1% of all retail meat dollar sales, but it’s a growing market. Look at alternatives to dairy milk. Sales of soy, almond, and other non-dairy kinds of milk are now at 13% of the market share. It’s anticipated that plant-based meat-free products will go the same way, especially if consumer awareness increases.
Beyond Meat burgers even made an appearance on Fast Money TV show, with traders tasting them live on air, with three out of four, grading it an A. The company is holding its own in a competitive $1.4 trillion worldwide meat industry. Even Nestle has announced plans to launch its own plant-based Awesome Burger in the Fall. And former investor Tyson are cashing in on the action too, having sold their minority stake so they can develop their own version. Maybe Richard Branson was right when last year he wrote that he believes in 30 years animals “won’t need to be killed for food anymore” and that plant-based food will be the norm.
If that’s true, then Beyond Meat’s success shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. And, just for reference, they don’t really bleed, they use beets!