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Tyson Will Add Vegan Proteins to Meat Counters Nationwide This Year

Tyson Will Add Vegan Proteins to Meat Counters Nationwide This Year

The meat giant is relaxing on frozen beef and chasing after faux vegan meat instead.

Tyson, the company synonymous with frozen chicken tenders and ready-to-eat beef, plans to spend 2019 focusing on new vegan proteins to rival other rapidly expanding options, including the Impossible Burger.

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The company is devoting substantial resources to create "great tasting protein alternatives that are more accessible for everyone," White said during a shareholders meeting earlier this month. He later told the Gazette that the company will produce vegan plant-based meats "in a significant way."

This isn't the first time that Tyson has shared its plans to expand into the plant-based food market: Tom Hayes, a former CEO of Tyson, directed the company to invest in Beyond Meat in October 2016.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?,” Hayes told Feedstuffs, quoted last August when asked about Tyson's investments.

White believes that while the demand for meat products will remain steady, more shoppers are enjoying what's commonly referred to as "flexitarian" diets, and that there's room for success in both categories.

The latest vegan news:

"There’s a growing number of people that want to eat a product that they view as being healthier for them and it may be non-animal protein, it may be a blended protein," White said.

Tyson Ventures (a corporate branch of the same company) and Kellogg's raised $30 million in investments for MycoProtein, a tech-based food producer that specializes in vegan mushroom-based proteins, Livekindly reports.

The Gazette reports that Tyson is expected to make a formal announcement soon, but executives are saying that plant-based products could soon be sold alongside other Tyson products in the grocery store as soon as this year. If so, it would come at a great time: Nielsen data shows that vegan meat sales are up 23 percent year over year, with Beyond Burger leading the category.

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Hidden Valley Releases Vegan Ranch

If your love of ranch dressing has prevented you from giving a vegan (or flexitarian) diet a try, you’re in luck. Hidden Valley, one of the most prominent producers of ranch dressing, is releasing a vegan version of the wildly popular condiment at limited retailers now, then at stores and via e-commerce nationwide beginning on April 1, 2021.

The brand confirmed the news to Food Network and noted that the forthcoming plant-based ranch dressing will be dairy- and gluten-free, meaning it will also be suitable for people with allergies to those foods to consume. The dressing will be called Hidden Valley Plant Powered Ranch.

As ranch fans may know, the beloved salad and pizza topping is typically made with buttermilk but can also be prepared with mayonnaise, Greek yogurt and/or sour cream. However, Hidden Valley Plant Powered Ranch will obviously be made without those dairy ingredients, though the company promises it will still boast the creamy texture and zesty taste that ranch fans know and love.

12-ounce bottles of Hidden Valley Plant Powered Ranch are slated to have a suggested retail price of $3.49.

While the impending arrival of vegan ranch dressing is certainly something to be excited about, it’s hardly the first time a major food brand has ventured into the plant-based space. Jimmy Dean recently announced that it will add two new plant-based patty breakfast sandwiches to its lineup and in July, IKEA confirmed that its iconic Swedish meatballs would be getting a vegan makeover.

Additionally, fast-food chains and big-box stores have also jumped on the plant-based bandwagon in a myriad of ways. Last month, Starbucks said it would make oat milk available in stores across the country this year, and earlier this week Chipotle added a plant-based Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice option to its menu for a limited time. Costco, on the other hand, began selling plant-based Beyond Meatballs at several of its stores across the country about a month ago.

Beyond Meat is launching a 'meatier' version of its plant-based burger

Beyond Meat is launching a new, "meatier" version of its plant-based burger in stores this week.

Tuesday's announcement comes as the $1.44 billion market for meat substitutes prepares for new entries from companies like Nestle and Tyson Foods.

The newest Beyond Burger formula includes a mix of proteins — pea, mung beans and rice — so that the vegan burger qualifies as a "complete protein" with all essential amino acids. The vegan burger will also have a slightly different texture as a result.

Cocoa butter and coconut oil are used to create a marbling and texture that more closely mimics real beef. The latest iteration of the patty also includes apple extract that changes the color of the plant-based meat substitute from red to brown when it's cooked.

Retail makes up roughly half of Beyond's business, accounting for $19.6 million in revenue during its first quarter. Retail sales have more than doubled in the last year. Beyond's food service revenue has increased by 491% from a year ago, thanks to restaurant chains like Carl's Jr. and Del Taco adding Beyond to their menus.

Investors have driven up Beyond Meat's stock price, making it the most successful IPO of the year. As of Monday's close, the stock has surged 572% since its debut last month, giving it a market value of $10.1 billion.

However, ahead of Tuesday's announcement, shares of Beyond Meat were trading falling after J.P. Morgan downgraded the stock. In mid-morning trading, shares were down more than 20%. The firm, which had been the lead underwriter for the IPO, said Monday's stock closing just shy of $170 was "beyond our price target" of $120. Tuesday's sell-off put shares at around $135.

The company expects its new Beyond Burger will be available by the end of the month in all stores nationwide that carry Beyond Meat products. Product pricing wasn't immediately available.

This isn't the first time Beyond has tweaked its formula. Six months ago, the company launched its Beyond Burger 2.0 in restaurants. However, the unveiling landed with less fanfare than Impossible Foods' new and improved burger, which took the top prize at the Consumer Electronics Show that month.

Impossible! Vegan patty battles to become the new all-American burger

It was lunchtime on a mid-November day in 2017 when some office workers in Midtown walked out of their buildings to encounter a marketing team on the sidewalk handing out free burgers and T-shirts printed with a single word: Impossible.

The burger wasn’t made of meat, the promoters told them.

Impossible! It tasted just like the real thing. Many a carnivore was sold.

When the Impossible Burger made its metro Atlanta debut 18 months ago, the veggie burger that "bleeds" was only available at Grindhouse Killer Burgers locations and at now-defunct The Counter in Roswell. Since then, the meat alternative has been added to menus all over the city, from fast-casual joints like Wahlburgers, Buffalo's Café and Hudson Grille to fine dining restaurants like Mission + Market in Buckhead and, of course, vegetarian spots such as Café Sunflower and Go Vegetarian.

Diners are consuming the Impossible Burger in such quantities that California-based food producer Impossible Foods can’t make them fast enough. In this meat-loving nation, where the beef burger is considered the all-American contribution to global gastronomy, the unlikeliest of scenarios has unfolded: a vegan burger shortage.

Where’s the beef?

The Impossible patty is made of water, plant proteins, coconut oil and heme, a natural molecule that gives burgers their distinctive taste and is also found in plants. The patty is formulated to look and taste like a traditional red meat burger. California-based Impossible Foods has received more than $250 million in financial backing from Bill Gates, venture fund Temasek and several other businesses to bring the innovative product to the marketplace, and consumers are literally eating it up.

Mission + Market chef-owner Ian Winslade has had the Impossible Burger on his menu since opening the restaurant in April of last year. Until the recent shortage, he had been going through between 120 and 160 patties a week, each one topped with mashed avocado, Asiago cheese, and pickled red onions, served with a side of fries.

Prior to the shortage, Grindhouse was selling 500 Impossible Burgers per day, combined among five locations, its two airport spots withstanding.

But that's nothing compared to the off-the-chart sales at Slutty Vegan, where they sell 1,600 burgers daily. Making its food truck debut last year, followed by a brick-and-mortar in Westview in January, the provocatively named eatery has become the hottest vegan name in town. Lines have reached upward of 1,200 people, estimates owner Pinky Cole. The average wait time is two hours. The most popular burger, the Ménage à Trois, is an Impossible patty topped with vegan bacon, vegan shrimp, and a mix of lettuce, tomato and special sauce.

Besides matching the taste and texture of their meat counterpart and fitting the bill for health-minded eaters and those who adhere to a meat-free diet, plant-based burgers are touted as sustainable. It takes less water and less land, generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy to produce than a beef burger.

From a nutritional perspective, plant-based burger patties can come with a red flag. According to Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian with Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, some plant-based burgers have saturated fat and calorie amounts similar to that found in all-beef patties. In addition, the sodium content can be high, and the protein source can be highly processed. “It’s not necessarily a protein in its natural form,” Smith said.

Patties also vary in the level of vegetable ingredients, Smith said. Ones made with a higher vegetable content are lower in fat.

“It’s probably not something you want to eat on an everyday basis due to the calories and the fat content,” Smith said.

Conor Sen, a financial investment adviser and partner with New River Investments, compares the vegan burger craze to that of new technology products like the Tesla and the iPhone. “You can create this tech disruptive story around it. It’s healthier for you. Sustainable. It can bring about this new Utopia of food,” said Sen, whose office is based in Brookhaven. That sort of messaging is “a big part of it for this mass audience,” Sen said.

Fake meat meets fast food

The Impossible Burger has become so popular that fast-food chains are getting in on the plant-based patty action. A burger featuring the Impossible Burger patty has been on the menu at all Red Robin locations since April. White Castle offers an Impossible Slider. Having tested its Impossible Whopper in St. Louis to great aplomb, Burger King recently announced that it would soon be bringing the burger to other cities, including Columbus, Georgia, and to its 7,200 units nationwide by year's end.

Other chain restaurants — Burger Fi, Carl’s Jr., TGI Fridays and Del Taco, among others — also have plant-based proteins on their menus. However, they source from Impossible Foods competitor Beyond Meat. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in El Segundo, California, Beyond Meat manufactures a variety of meat alternatives: patties, sausages, even crumbles. The company went public in early May.

While some fast-food chains are partnering with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods as suppliers, others are creating their own special formula. McDonald's is experimenting with a vegetarian burger in Germany. Even Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A is mulling over whether to add vegan options and meat substitutes to its menu, Chick-fil-A menu executive director Amanda Norris told Business Insider in an interview earlier this month. But the company remains tight-lipped on the status of this initiative. "We're not ready to talk about it yet," Matt Abercrombie, the company's director for culinary commercialization, told the AJC soon after the Business Insider story was published.

Crisis over the craze

What folks are talking about is the crisis. On April 10 and again on May 1, Impossible Foods sent letters to food-service operators who use its products, explaining that the extraordinary growth of its flagship product, the Impossible Burger 2.0, which hit the market at the start of this year, had led to scarcity, and it was unable to meet the demands of the more than 7,000 restaurants that currently use its products.

The company also shared its plans to increase its production capacity at its Oakland, California, plant, as well as pursue more manufacturing locations.

It reassured its customers that: “Impossible Foods has a supply chain that is highly scalable, and the product is sourced from abundant ingredients. The company faces no insurmountable supply-chain constraints or fundamental bottlenecks like many successful startups, we are facing short-term ramp-up challenges resulting from demand greatly outstripping supply.”

On May 8, Grindhouse Killer Burgers issued a press release. Owner Alex Brounstein apologized for the inconvenience but said the Impossible Burgers would be available regularly again soon. He encouraged “fans” to call ahead during the shortage.

When Winslade of Mission + Market contacted the company May 13 to check on the availability of the burger, he was informed via an email that “Foodservice distributors are currently extremely limited in what they are able to order and we are not in a position to guarantee or direct ship product” to him. The company, however, was willing to send him cards that guests could redeem online for limited-edition Impossible swag.

Winslade is not a happy customer. He noted that when he started carrying the product at Mission + Market a year ago, his was one of the few Atlanta restaurants using it. “Now, they are selling it at fast-food outlets. That dilutes the brand to the point that I don’t know if, when it comes back, I want to use it anymore. And who knows when it will come back?”

From his financial perspective, Sen, the investment adviser, isn’t sold on the vegan burger craze either.

When Beyond Meat went public on May 2, it was priced at $25 a share. The stock (BYND) is currently hovering around $78 a share. Sen said the company is projected to do $200 million in revenue for this year, yet Beyond Meat is valued around $4.5 billion — a way-above-normal ratio.

Beyond Meat is still early in its life as a business.

Beyond Meat sold about 15 million pounds of not-meat last year (most of that being its burger product), according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That contrasts with about 26 billion pounds of just beef produced by American meat companies a year earlier, in 2017, according to the North American Meat Institute, a national trade association.

Sen views the future of the alt-meat market as dependent on many factors, but especially consumer demand fueled by early adopters, vegans, “progressive people who what to feel environmentally conscious” and those who want to “be part of a trend,” he said. “The hot IPO (initial public offering) for Beyond Meat makes it a business craze. The shortage makes it a story.”

Sen likened the vegan burger shortage of today to that of Athens-based Creature Comforts’ flagship IPA, Tropicalia, a few years ago. “You couldn’t get it. It just makes you want it more,” he said.

There is a place where Atlantans who crave a plant-based burger are finding patties in stock: Slutty Vegan. Due to the Impossible shortage, Cole, the owner, hasn’t been able to send her truck onto the streets on a daily basis, but, she says, “We have enough to supply our customers at the restaurant.”

Staff writer Matt Kempner contributed to this article.


At Grindhouse Killer Burgers, the Impossible Burger patty is a $2.50 upcharge per patty. For instance, a “Junior” with a 1/4 pound patty is $4.99 for a beef patty and $7.49 for an Impossible Burger patty.

Prices for burgers featuring the Impossible Burger patty at Slutty Vegan are between $12-$19. The price includes fries.

An Impossible Burger at Mission + Market (with fries) is $19.

In its trial run in St. Louis, the Impossible Whopper costs $1 more than a Whopper, according to several media outlets.


Kristie Middleton is managing director of farm animal protection for The Humane Society of the United States and the author of MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live–One Meal at a Time. She is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on the topic. Middleton has partnered with the nation’s biggest school districts including Los Angeles, Detroit, and Boston to implement plant-based initiatives such as Meatless Monday. Her work has been covered by national media, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN. She holds certificate in plant-based nutrition from T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Elise Littler is a former McGrath Public Policy Intern at the Humane Society of the United States. She received her BA in English from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and her Master of Public Affairs degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. She currently works at the American Institutes for Research as a Proposal Development Coordinator in its educational assessments division.

Is Veganism Expensive?

In the grand scheme of things, the vegan diet is the most inexpensive diet on this planet. Once animal products have been eliminated from the menu, virtually any chance of getting a disease has been eliminated as well. Our health is priceless. Yet meat, dairy and egg-eaters are rarely healthy and vibrant, especially in their golden years if they even make it that far. Add the cost of health care and insurance, prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, doctor visits and hospital stays, and you can easily see how meat, dairy and egg-eating is the most expensive lifestyle around!

When eating at fast food restaurants or other establishments, veganism is the cheapest way to go or, at worst, the exact same price as meat. For instance, one of the cheapest items at Taco Bell is the bean burrito without cheese (at 99 cents this means the McDonald's dollar menu folks have NO excuse not to switch to Taco Bell). The cheapest item at Subway is the veggie sub. When eating at Asian establishments, tofu and veggies are no more expensive than the meat dishes. When ordering a cheeseless pizza, you'll pay exactly the same price as a pizza with cheese. Specialty vegan restaurants might be pricey, but all specialty establishments cost more, and eating at vegan restaurants is not a requirement. Meat, dairy and egg-eaters love to ignore the fact that specialty places that serve filet mignon, lobster and fish are more expensive than a hot dog stand or a hamburger joint.

Some of the packaged soy/wheat meats might cost 50 cents or a dollar more than their meat counterparts. But processed items (meat or vegan) always cost more. One does not have to eat soy/wheat meat to be vegan. Many vegans don't even want a meat taste, so they choose as staples of their diet items like rice, millet, beans, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, carrots, tofu, peanut butter, pasta and noodles, which are always the cheapest items around. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is another way to reduce your grocery bill. Make smoothies with the frozen fruit using a combination of mangos, strawberries, kiwis, pears, bananas, blueberries, cherries, pineapples, peaches or raspberries. And don't forget to shop at your local farmer's market or dollar store for great discounts. Eating five bananas for breakfast is cheap and healthy, too. Grocers never charge more than about $1.15 for five bananas. You can also buy inexpensive textured vegetable protein [TVP] in bulk and make soy meat yourself. Check out the Vegan Recipes page of this site for plenty of free recipes. Or purchase Ellen Jaffe Jones' book Eat Vegan on $4 a Day.

Ten times out of ten, poverty-stricken societies are vegetarian or vegan because rice, millet, beans, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, carrots, tofu, peanut butter, noodles and other pastas are the cheapest items around. This is why the world's largest feed-the-hungry organization&mdashFood for Life Global&mdashfeeds millions of hungry people free vegan meals on a daily basis!

Finally, when I gave hundreds of lectures each year to poor college students nationwide, thousands ended up choosing veganism because it's truly easy and inexpensive. In fact, in 2011 the University of Texas-El Paso chapter of ONE, an international group that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease (and has NO links to animal liberation), challenged 15 students to live on campus for one week on $1.50 per day! Guess what they ate?

More importantly, veganism is an ethical lifestyle decision. Just like people who have decided not to rape women, wantonly kill humans or molest children, vegans have expanded their circles of compassion and decided not to rape women, wantonly kill humans, molest children nor support the killing of animals. Once an ethical decision has been made, it will be done. Until you've made that decision, excuses will be plentiful. Once you choose veganism, all excuses&mdashincluding the plea that "going vegan costs money"&mdashfall by the wayside.

The Funny U Word

Umami is a funny little word. It’s also meaty. Or meat flavored anyway. It’s rich and savory depth is what makes meat and cheeses so delicious. If you love bread, beer, yogurt, cheese or….meat, you already love umami!

What Is Koji Exactly?

Koji is one of the coolest, most functional ingredients out there! A sustainably sourced superfood plant-based protein our koji is naturally grown to mimic the taste and texture of the meats you know and love. Koji also contains the fifth flavor we mentioned above. Umami.

Why We Chose It

Besides the fact that we’re animal and earth-loving foodies? Koji is the perfect plant-based meat replacement. Famous chefs all over the world use, know and love this meatless meat. Better for you. Better for the planet. Let’s reimagine meat together!

Better Than Meat

Plant-powered nutrition that tastes and feels like the traditional animal products you crave. No hormones. No antibiotics. Zero cholesterol. It’s your perfect, planet-friendly protein.

The Meaty Without Compromise Guarantee

We’re an equal opportunity meat-eater and plant-lover brand. All of our products host the natural meaty flavors and textures you’re familiar with. No fake stuff. No kidding.

Whole Food Sustainable Protein

More wholesome than your mama’s Instagram, our whole food protein requires 90% less land and water to produce than many other plant-based proteins do! All the juicy meat goodness without all the junk.

Beyond Meat’s Meatless Burger Debuts Nationwide

Just in time for July 4th, the fake meat trailblazer Beyond Meat has landed its Beyond Burger on the menu of a popular nationwide chain. Beginning Monday, the vegan beef doppelgänger, made of pea protein, coconut oil, beets and potato starch, will make its debut at eight of BurgerFi’s 101 locations. Both companies say the Beyond Burger will roll out nationwide at the Florida-based chain by the end of this summer. Customers will be able to order the Beyond Burger on BurgerFi’s on the company’s signature stamped bun, or served as a lettuce wrap.

Becoming a supplier of BurgerFi is a big win for Beyond Meat and its co-founder and oft-spokesperson Ethan Brown, which together first made a splash five years ago when its imitation chicken strips appeared in the cold case as many Whole Foods locations. The company has since launched a faux ground burger product, along with the Beyond Burger, which is sold at selected Whole Foods butcher counters in May, Safeway announced the product would be sold at hundreds of its stores. Last year, Beyond Meat went even further mainstream after Tyson Foods invested in the company.

It has not always been smooth sailing for Brown and Beyond Meat, as their knocks on the doors of fast food companies often went unanswered. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Brown explained that his attempt to build a trade show stand similar in appearance to an In-N-Out restaurant earned him a cease-and-desist letter from the California burger chain.

Beyond Meat can now join one of its top competitors, Impossible Foods, as they conquer the fast food market. Impossible Foods’ “Bloody Burger” hit the New York food scene last year, and has since made more appearances at restaurants nationwide.

So start saying good-bye to the dull, granular or rubbery veggie burgers of yesterday. Consumers increasingly desire high-protein options, but not necessarily at the cost of cardiovascular health or animal welfare. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods prove that vegetarian grub does not have to sacrifice taste, and unlike the global meat industry, does not carry the baggage of a deforestation and a massive carbon footprint.

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

Think Beyond Meat: Investors are Cashing in on the Plant-Based Food Revolution

The best performing first-day IPO in almost 20 years took place on May 2, 2019. [1]

The company behind it wasn’t a famous ride-sharing start up, or a tech firm promising the next revolutionary gadget… it was an alternative food producer that exclusively creates plant-based meat substitutes called Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND).

On day 1 of trading, BYND opened at $25 and closed at $65.75, +163% above its IPO price.

Since that time, the stock has climbed an astonishing +650% from its opening price. [2]

I believe this record-breaking debut signals a momentous shift in the public’s attitude towards health and the abundance of newly available food products that can support a healthier lifestyle — and it will have a ripple effect for years to come.

The American market research firm The NPD Group conducted a study last year where they found that 86% of people who purchase vegan products also eat meat. [3] This type of consumer is now being referred to as a “flexitarian,” which describes someone “who wants to reduce their meat consumption without fully converting to vegetarianism.” [4]

And, as The New York Times reports, this group (flexitarians) is “not necessarily motivated by a desire to save the planet… many of them are drawn to plant-based meat more for its perceived health benefits. ” [5]

So, it looks like Beyond Meat has hit a cultural sweet spot. Prior to their IPO, “there had been no pure-play public vehicle in which to invest in the plant-based frenzy,” and their massive success shows just how hungry (literally!) investors are to participate in the action. [6]

Keep reading… because it gets better. I’m about to provide an overview of the rapidly expanding plant-based food industry, and the incredible investment opportunities emerging over the next 18 months in this brand-new space.

It’s Vegan Sure, but Is It REALLY a Healthier Option?

What constitutes a healthy diet has always been controversial. Everywhere you look there is a different take on what and how we should eat: vegan, vegetarian, organic, plant-based, gluten-free, low-carb, keto, paleo… and the list goes on.

However, there is an increasing amount of scientific evidence which confirms that lowering meat consumption can improve overall health.

Perhaps the most notable study was published in April of 2019. It was a collaboration between EAT, a global non-profit that wants to “transform the global food system” and the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. [7]

The study was “the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system.” [8] It brought together “more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe,” and they concluded that “people who follow vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or semi-vegetarian diets actually had a 12% lower mortality risk than people who are omnivores.” [9]

The Canadian government also issued their revised food guide in January which “encourages people to focus more on eating protein-rich foods, including plants, rather than just relying on meat.” [10]

Beyond Meat (and its competitors) are well positioned to benefit from these new findings.

Uniquely Targeting “Real” Meat Eaters

Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat was founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown, who left a leadership position at Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP) to start the business.

The company develops and manufactures a variety of plant-based foods (all of which are vegan) including their flagship offering, the Beyond Burger, as well as Beyond Beef, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Beyond Sausage.

Their products are increasingly being stocked in the meat section at grocery stores across North America, which is part of their strategy to actively target meat eaters.

Brown explained in an interview with CNBC in January that 93% of Beyond Meat’s customers eat meat regularly. [11] In fact, the company doesn’t even promote itself to vegans and vegetarians, who comprise less than 5% of the U.S. population. [12]

With flexitarians in mind, Beyond Meat has gone to great lengths to mimic not only the taste of “real” meat but also the way it cooks. Beyond Burgers make a sizzling sound while they’re grilling and are made with beet juice, which makes them “bleed.” [13]

A single Beyond Burger patty also includes 30% of your suggested daily iron intake, while a regular beef burger only contains about 15% — so these plant-based burgers rival traditional burgers in some aspects of their nutritional value as well. [14]

Populating Grocery Store Aisles and Restaurant Menus

Beyond Meat stocks its products at 17,000 grocery stores in the U.S. alone. [15] In May, they entered the Canadian market, and are now carried at 3,000 grocery stores nationwide, most notably at Whole Foods (owned by Amazon — NASDAQ: AMZN), Save-On-Foods and IGA. [16]

Their burgers are also served at popular fast food chains throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Carl's Jr., Del Taco, Tim Hortons (owned by Restaurant Brands International. — NYSE: QSR, TSX: QSR) and A&W — exposing Beyond Meat to mainstream audiences. [17]

Late last year, Tesco (OTC: TSCDY, LSE: TSCO), the multinational grocery store with over 3,400 locations predominantly in the UK and Ireland, began selling the Beyond Burger. [18] According to Allied Market Research, “Europe accounted for nearly 40% of global sales for plant-based meats in 2017,” so this is a key market for Beyond Meat to target. [19]

Looking at the widespread placement of Beyond Meat’s products this early in the sales cycle, it is clear that plant-based foods are no longer a niche or novel concept, and that vegan/vegetarian meat replacements are gaining steam among meat eaters.

Will the Golden Arches Embark on This New Trend?

Investors in Beyond Meat include world-famous names like Microsoft founder Bill Gates (NASDAQ: MSFT), venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and Evan Williams’ Obvious Ventures. (Williams was the former chairman and CEO of Twitter — NYSE: TWTR). [20]

However, I believe the most important investor is former McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) CEO Don Thompson, who also sits on Beyond Meat’s board of directors.

There is much speculation about the fast food chain including a vegan burger on its menus. [21] The current CEO of McDonald’s, Steve Easterbrook, revealed to CNBC on May 29 that “McDonald’s is already testing meat alternatives in Europe.” [22] Of note, after the announcement, Beyond Meat’s stock spiked over 13%. [23]

The Big Question: Does Beyond Meat Deserve Its Massive Valuation?

Considering all the excitement around Beyond Meat’s recent IPO and its future partnerships, the business has attracted its fair share of skeptics as well. Multiple articles have been featured in countless publications including the LA Times and Business Insider that argue its stock price is overvalued. [24]

Last year, Beyond Meat’s revenue was almost $88 million, more than double its 2017 numbers. [25] This year, corporate management estimates “top-line growth of at least 140% to more than $210 million in revenue.” [26]

Currently Beyond Meat has a market value of about $10 billion, which is relatively similar to respected food industry company Pilgrim’s Pride (NASDAQ: PPC), America’s largest producer of chicken, which is valued at $6.7 billion. [27] However, Pilgrim’s Pride generated almost $11 billion in revenue in 2018 (125 times more than Beyond Meat. ). [28]

Looking at these macro numbers, it’s clear why Beyond Meat has garnered criticism — but I think its valuation reflects how hopeful investors are in the alternative meat category.

I believe that investors are expecting the space to follow a similar trajectory to the non-dairy milk industry (including almond, soy, oat and coconut), which has “grown 61% in the past 5 years and now represents 13% of the traditional milk market.” [29]

If plant-based proteins/meat can take even a small share of the $1.4 trillion global “real” meat market ($270 billion in the U.S.), this could potentially sustain Beyond Meat’s valuation in the long run. [30]

Everyone is Jumping on the Plant-Based Train

Even well-established food companies are scrambling to keep up (and cash in) on this emerging market segment.

America’s largest meat producer, Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN), is venturing outside of its typical offerings to include meat alternatives.

On June 13, they announced that starting this summer they will be selling “plant-based nuggets,” as well as “blended burgers made with beef and plants” in the fall. [31] Both products will contain pea protein isolate, which is the primary ingredient in Beyond Meat’s burgers. [32]

Similarities in ingredients is to be expected considering that Tyson invested in Beyond Meat in 2016, but sold their 6.5% stake in April 2019 (prior to Beyond Meat’s IPO in May). [33]

Nestlé S.A. (OTC: NSRGY / SWX: NESN), the Swiss-based multinational food and beverage corporation, launched their plant-based Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger in Europe in April, aiming to compete with Beyond Meat in the world’s most lucrative plant-based market. [34] They will also release their burger in the U.S. this fall. [35]

Maple Leaf Foods (TSX: MFI), a multibillion-dollar Canadian packaged meat company, acquired plant-based meat producer The Field Roast Grain Meat Co. in January 2018, as they look to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian friendly options.

IKEA is best known as the largest furniture retailer in the world but is also — maybe surprisingly — the 6 th largest food retailer in the world. [36] They announced in May that they are developing plant-based Swedish meatballs, which will be tested in select markets in February 2020. [37]

The influx of multibillion-dollar food companies that have added (or plan to add) a plant-based meat offering speaks to the long-term bets that are being made on shifting consumer demands to more health-friendly options.

An Impossible Feat, but Much More Is on the Way

Even with giants like Tyson Meats and Nestlé stepping in to the plant-based industry, Beyond Meat’s biggest competitor is Impossible Foods (a private company). Their flagship product is a plant-based burger called the Impossible Burger.

Founded in 2011 with headquarters just south of San Francisco, Impossible Foods has pursued a different go-to-market strategy than Beyond Meat, forgoing placing their product in grocery stores and instead targeting restaurant chains. (Although according to their website, they plan to have their products in grocery stores “later this year.”) [38]

Currently their burger is sold at more than 7,000 restaurants including Burger King, Applebee's, The Cheesecake Factory, White Castle and at Disney theme parks. [39]

Their biggest partnership to date has been with Burger King, who debuted the Impossible Whopper in select restaurants in April and will roll it out nationwide to their 6,400 locations by the end of the year. [40]

José Cil, the CEO of Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR / TSX: QSR), explained on an earnings call in April that sales of the Impossible Whopper “exceeded expectations.” [41] He continued, saying that Burger King is “not seeing guests swap the original Whopper for the Impossible Whopper…We're seeing that it's attracting new guests.” [42]

It is clear that vegetarian and vegan menu items at large chain restaurants can create opportunities to expand their customer base.

The NPD Group reported in July 2019 that plant-based burger sales at fast food restaurants increased 10% from June 2018–May 2019, compared to sales from June 2017–May 2018. [43] In terms of exact numbers, “That’s 228 million meat-free burgers sold in the past year in all. However, 6.4 billion beef burgers were sold over that same period — so only about 3% of their combined sales came on the plant-based side.” [44]

What may be most notable is that “beef burger sales are steady from where they were a year ago, meaning that meatless burgers don’t appear to be putting a dent in beef sales.” [45]

This suggests that there is plenty of room for the plant-based industry to grow, and these numbers can help explain the enormous current market cap of Beyond Meat. But there are other companies to consider. Read on and I will show you a couple of junior entrants that could represent great investment potential.

These Junior Companies Could Be on the Verge of Breaking Out!

I have mentioned several multibillion-dollar corporations that are participating in the plant-based craze, but I also wanted to highlight 2 noteworthy junior companies. This is important because I think these companies could represent the future of plant-based breakthroughs.

Burcon NutraScience Corporation (OTC: BUROF / TSX: BU)

Toronto investment firm Beacon Securities identified Burcon NutraScience Corp. as the “only public pure-play in Canada on the plant-based food industry.” [46]

Beacon Securities analyst Spencer Churchill also began coverage on the stock in early July 2019 with a "buy" rating, and “a 1-year price target of $2.00” (the stock is currently trading in the $1.00 range). [47]

With head offices located in Vancouver, Canada, Burcon develops plant-based proteins which act as alternatives (primarily) to dairy products. Their flagship product is a soy protein called CLARISOY ® . [48]

The company has been around for over 20 years and has spent approximately CAN$72 million “developing patented technology to process plant-based proteins.” [49] Their extensive pedigree in the plant-based industry gives them a unique edge within the space, as it is filled with early stage start-ups and businesses that have been operating for less than 10 years.

Burcon’s considerable experience, spanning over two decades, has embedded them with deep knowledge of the processes and technology used to create plant-based proteins, as well as allowed them to deliver high-quality products through comprehensive testing and development.

The company recently announced a joint venture with Merit Functional Foods Corporation to build a 20,000-ton processing facility by mid-2020, which will be able to “swing between producing pea and canola protein.” [50] Burcon’s CEO Johann Tergesen explained to Bloomberg that “it’ll be the only commercial canola protein production facility in the world.” [51]

I believe Burcon should be closely monitored as it continues to expand its distribution and production capabilities.

Else Nutrition Holdings Inc. (TSX-V: BABY)

Israeli-based Else Nutrition creates baby snacks and baby formulates that are non-dairy, non-soy, hormone-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and processed without chemicals.

For the past several months, Else has been gearing up for “commercial scale production and the North American launch of their first products: powder and liquid baby formula for toddlers (12–36 months old).” [52] The release is planned for Q2-2020 via online sales and placement with specialty/regional retailers. [53]

In a recent interview, CEO Hamutal Yitzhak told me that Else hasn’t done any marketing to consumers but continuously receives e-mails from mothers all over the world asking for their products — which can only be a positive for future sales.

They closed their most recent fundraising round on June 12, 2019, which was 100% oversubscribed. [54] The company decided to raise 25% over the original financing amount for a total of $7.5 million. [55]

I am particularly excited to follow this company as I anticipate massive consumer interest to come — especially from expectant mothers and mothers of babies and toddlers. I believe Else offers a unique product that has very few competitors.

The Ultimate Endorsement: I Recommend You Taste It for Yourself!

It is clear that the general public is growing increasingly aware of individual health and environmental concerns, causing more people to search out alternatives to long-standing dietary staples including meat and dairy.

And this new-found consciousness will need a production pipeline to support it, which bodes well for the entire plant-based protein industry.

This recently emerging sector is only getting started — as evidenced by massive investor interest and growing demand by consumers, as well as national grocery chains and global fast food restaurants adding plant-based meat alternatives to their shelves and menus.

I anticipate there will be several sizable winners along the way, represented by both major and junior companies, opening the door for investors to potentially make big gains in this space.

If you are still not unconvinced…take a taste test! Go to your local Burger King and order an Impossible Burger, or A&W to order a Beyond Burger, or even try a Beyond Taco from Del Taco. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Watch, taste and see… I’m betting on plant-based proteins to take a healthy bite out of the market share of traditional meat products in the years to come.

Blake Finucane, Contributor
for Investors News Service

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