Beyond Meat, producer of plant-based meat products, is planning to make its line cheaper than meat, which could spell disaster for the meat industry.
Beyond Meat’s flagship product Beyond Burger – a vegan burger made to taste just like meat by biophysicists who study the molecular structure of meat and find plants to replicate the texture and taste – has been successful in drawing in non-vegans seeking a plant-based alternative to meat.
According to Beyond Meat Founder Ethan Brown, 93% of people who purchase the company’s products in grocery stores are meat eaters.
However, non-vegans eating Beyond Meat products are doing so in spite of price, not because of it, as the company has not been able to compete with meat when it comes to price.
The Beyond Burger, for example, which retails at $5.99 for two patties, is 71% more expensive than even organic, grass-fed beef when compared pound for pound.
That might be about to change, according to Brown, who told Forbes that the company is now making investments into alternative plant protein sources that would lower cost.
“There’s no reason this shouldn’t be cheaper than meat, and to get there we need to make investments in the supply chain,” said Brown.
Their products are currently made with ingredients like pea and rice protein, but the company is looking into a variety of plant proteins like sunflower seed, mustard seed and lupin to help lower price.
“Each come with their own characteristics, it’s really fascinating to me,” Brown said. “The plant kingdom is replete with protein, once we think of it as a human food source and not a feed source for animals.”
Using a diverse set of protein sources will help make the products more cost effective and more affordable for customers, he said.
“We have an ambition to be part of the generation that separates meat from animals,” Brown said. “You don’t do that by thinking small, you don’t do that by having a couple chefs and food scientists.”
Beyond Meat announced it was going public in October last year, and Brown said that raising money in an IPO will help them lower costs.
The company is currently worth over $500 million, according to CNBC.
If Beyond Meat is successful in dropping prices below the price of meat, it could lead to more consumers turning to the plant-based alternatives.
With 52% of Americans saying that they want to eat more plant-based meals, a vegan burger with a similar texture and taste to meat could give them the push they need, especially if it’s cheaper.
Beyond Meat products contain similar or superior nutrition to meat in areas like protein and iron without any of the hormones, antibiotics or cholesterol found in meat.
The combined taste and cheaper price could lead to even more Americans turning toward plant-based alternatives, which are viewed as healthier by many consumers.
The meat industry is doing its part to make sure consumers keep eating meat, maintaining that meat is vital for proper nutrition.
In response to New York City announcing this week that it will no longer serve meat to students on Mondays, Meat Institute President Julie Anna Potts responded with a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling the policy “disappointing and misguided because it denies New York’s children access to nutritious food they need for development and because it appears to be based on a collection of half-truths.”
She added: “Meat is exceptionally nutrient-dense, with essential vitamins and minerals, and it is a source of complete proteins that cannot be matched by plant-based diets.”
But sales of plant-based meats don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, hitting a record $1.5 billion in 2018.
Out in Israel, vegan startup Rilbite also has similar plans to disrupt the meat industry, both in Israel and worldwide, by pricing its products competitively, stating that it plans to “hit meat directly.“