Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND), the maker of vegetable-based meat substitutes is enjoying great demand during this pandemic, juicing its stock by more than 100% in 2020. The company has come a long way since it welcomed Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) as a minority investor four years ago.
Beyond Meat has been around since 2009, but it went public last year. Last summer, it jumped at its first large-scale commercial opportunity when Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) started a pilot program of its sausage sandwiches in Manhattan. Nationwide distribution followed in the fall of 2019. Meanwhile, the company has also found plenty of other distribution channels over the last year and a half and has since enjoyed valuable word-of-mouth advertising.
Needless to say, Beyond Meat has a long way to go to match the production scale of Tyson. But the company is growing. Beyond Meant sold just over 51 million pounds of plant-based products last year, which is a significant increase from 15 million pounds in 2018.
Production Is One Thing, Distribution Is Another
At the end of last year, Beyond Meat's products were available in 65 countries, but mainly through exports. This year, it made progress by acquiring a manufacturing facility in the Netherlands with plans to open a co-manufacturing plant to facilitate Beyond Meat production and distribution throughout Europe. It also reached an agreement with local Chinese officials to open a facility near Shanghai to increase the availability of its products in Asia. Beyond Meat is expanding its distribution, including Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) which just tripled its distribution of Beyond Meat products.
Accessibility Is Also Improving
Although it got off to a slow start, Beyond Meat's plant-based offerings are now within reach for most consumers. Kroger (NYSE:KR) has been on the Beyond Burgers for almost three years now. Over the summer, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) sold out of its Cookout Classic patties. Whole Foods Market's offerings included its products even before it was acquired by Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN). Beyond Meat sandwiches can be also found at many locations such as The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE). Even McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) was forced to board the plan-based train as it introduced Beyond Burgers in Germany.
It is also reasonable to expect Beyond Meat to launch a widely available chicken product in the near future. The company's ongoing trial of Beyond Fried Chicken at Yum! Brands' (NYSE:YUM) KFC locations in California entered its third round this summer.
Rising competition could be a problem, but Citigroup analyst Wendy Nicholson believes there could be room for more than one winner.
In her report, Nicholson found that although alternative-meat sales have moderated from their March highs when many lockdowns began, they are still higher than before the pandemic. Moreover, in the four weeks up to October 3rd, sales of these jumped 39.1%, which is up from 37.2% in September. These figures are way ahead of the 10.9% increase in sales of fresh meat. Nicholson concluded that the company's new product lines are resonating well with consumers, even with increased competition. Beyond Meats YoY sales growth accelerated in October, rising from 49.3% in September to 56.4%, which is significantly ahead of the 39.1% logged by the plant-based category as a whole.
As the demand for plant-based foods continues to surge, Reuters also reported Nestlé (OTC:NSRGY) will launch more plant-based products in the next few weeks. Since the beginning of this year, the Swiss food giant has made clear its intentions to aggressively innovate to capitalize on vegan and vegetarian opportunities.
Though the future is still uncertain, a solid foundation for the plant-based food market is being laid this year. The potential is there, reflected in the fact that Beyond Meat's stock has more than doubled since this unprecedented year began, with plant-based trends poised to strengthen even further as more people try out these new products. If it can execute Ethan Brown's mission, Beyond Meat can certainly reward its shareholders over the next decade.
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