Fake meat products backed by Bill Gates are having a horrible year; 75% stock market decline


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By Kevin Killough, Energy Journalist

Plant-based Beyond Meat is having a tough year, raising doubts that the company’s products can compete with thick, juicy beef steak in the long run.

Just two years ago, the alternative meat industry seemed to be making serious inroads into the food budgets of average Americans. Companies rushed to produce their own versions of meat-like plant proteins and formed partnerships with major fast-food chains.

Burger King has made a huge financial investment pushing its Impossible Whopper, made with Impossible Foods brand plant-based meat. And McDonald’s reportedly did well overseas with its McPlant, made with Beyond Meat, but abandoned it in the United States after a trial in some restaurants.

Beyond Meat has received celebrity endorsements from Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Gates, who provided venture capital funding to the company. Gates has also invested in Beyond Meat competitor Impossible Foods Inc.

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Cattle ranchers in Wyoming are watching new competitors vying for America’s meat palate, and the pandemic has created a lot of turmoil for Cowboy State producers as well.

Large meat packers, which process 80% of the meat in America, have had to close some plants because of COVID-19, severely limiting processing capacity. Supply chain and labor issues have also made it more difficult for herders. The growing popularity of plant-based meat substitutes at the time was another threat to their already thin financial margins.

“There was a lot of fear that this would take off and really go,” said Dennis Sun, a fourth-generation Wyoming breeder and Wyoming Livestock Roundup editor.

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, said the initial popularity of plant-based products sparked greater industry interest in further advocacy.

“It was something that we took seriously as a concern. It might be a little stronger word than I would use, but as an industry that reminded us that we needed to discuss more aggressively not only the flavor of real meat, beef or lamb, but also the nutritional values ​​that are in the real product,” Magagna said.

average power

It seems that the initial interest in alternative meats is not growing or sustaining.

Citing research conducted by Information Resources Inc., Bloomberg reports that sales of refrigerated meat alternatives are down more than 10% over the past year. Beyond Meat’s shares have fallen 75% year-to-date and, according to CNBC, the company’s market value has fallen by more than $12 billion over the past three years.

The company had to revise its earlier sales forecast for 2022 down about $100 million, now estimating that it will end the year with sales of between $470 million and $520 million. To cut costs, the company announced last month that it was reducing its global workforce from 1,000 to 40 employees.

This year, McDonald’s launched a trial of its McPlant burger, which was part of a partnership with Beyond Meat, but it simply failed to win over consumers. The product has been quietly removed from US restaurant menus.

With waning consumer interest comes upheaval on Beyond Meat’s board of directors. Last week COO Doug Ramsey was suspended after he was arrested for allegedly biting off part of another man’s nose, and this week the company announced that its chief supply chain officer would step down.

Rare challenge

Impossible Foods has partnered with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store to sell its meatless breakfast sausage. The announcement on Facebook drew praise and widespread criticism.

“Not in a billion years will I eat this. The only impossible thing will be how to recover from this mess,” one commenter wrote.

Others scoffed at those who were so offended by the offer, but the reaction suggests an analysis by Deloitte Consulting was correct. The company suggested that many consumers are put off by the perceived “woke” nature of the product. The company also conducted a survey in July that found fewer consumers view alternative meats as healthier and better for the environment.

The Beyond Meat founder told Entrepreneur magazine in 2018 that his main motivation for starting the business was to fight climate change. Switching to a plant-based diet would result in small reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, the agricultural sector, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, accounts for 11% of annual emissions, but livestock accounts for only a small portion, at around 2%.

Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, is a critic of those advocating a vegan diet as a way to fight climate change.

Lomborg has said he is a vegetarian for ethical reasons, but he points to a systematic survey of peer-reviewed studies published in the Journal for Cleaner Production that found the average person in the developed world would reduce their emissions by 4.3 % by changing to a meatless diet.

There are far more effective measures to combat climate change, Lomborg said.

Beyond Meat did not respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment.

Well done?

Magagna said the drop in consumer enthusiasm was largely related to the taste of plant-based meats.

People were initially excited because it was something new to try, Magagna said. Once they tried it, they found it didn’t quite live up to the real deal.

“It just doesn’t give them the same satisfaction as that juicy beef steak,” Magagna said.

As inflation continues to drive up food prices, consumers are likely taking a closer look at their grocery bills. As alternative meat products often cost more than natural meat, consumers can also choose cheaper options.

All of this bad news for the alternative meat industry may not be the end of niche food products. Impossible Foods CEO Peter McGuinness told Bloomberg that the company’s retail sales have increased 70% this year.

McGuiness said consumer awareness is key to future growth.

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