Beyond Meat is a plant-based meat maker that creates its version of “meat” from ingredients such as pea protein, canola oil and beet juice.
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The California-based startup mimics meat so closely in taste and texture its products are now being served up at juicy burger chains like Carl’s Jr. and TGI Friday’s. The burgers are sold alongside real meat in the grocery store rather than being stuffed in freezers like traditional veggie patties.
To create this replica, the company uses a process that combines heating, cooling, and pressure to create the texture of meat while layering in plant-based fats, binders, flavors and colors, according to Beyond Meat’s website.
The company’s mission is to deliver the “meaty experience” with plant-based alternatives that have a greater or equal protein to their animal counterparts.Its burgers “bleed” with beet juice; its sausages are colored with fruit juice.
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The company is capitalizing on the growing trend of plant-based substitutes, driven in part by the desire for healthier, more sustainable food combined with a concern for environmental hazards.
U.S. sales of plant-based meat are rising faster than sales of regular meat. Nielsen says annual U.S. sales of plant-based meats jumped 42 percent between March 2016 and March 2019 to a total of $888 million. Traditional meat sales rose 1 percent to $85 billion in that same time frame.
The startup was founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown, a former clean energy executive. Brown’s family partially owned a Maryland dairy farm, so Brown spent weekends and summers on the farm as a child. As he grew older, he began to question whether people really needed animals to produce meat.
The company believes that in shifting from animal to plant-based meat, it can tackle “growing global issues” including human health, climate change, constraints on natural resources, and animal welfare.
The company touts that it takes 99 percent less water, 93 percent less land and 46 percent less energy to make plant-based burgers. The company also says it emits 90 percent fewer greenhouse gases.
Beyond Meat became a public company in May of 2019 when it listed its shares for $45 on the Nasdaq. By July, those shares rose more than 430 percent.
To date, the company, based in El Segundo, Calif., employs more than 60 scientists, engineers, researchers, technicians and chefs at its 30,000-square-foot lab. It also has manufacturing facilities in Columbia, Mo.
The products including the Beyond Burger, Beyond Beef (ground meat), Beyond Sausage and Beyond Beef Crumbles can be found in more than 58,000 grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and universities, the company says.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.