Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company's initial products were launched in the United States in 2012. The company has products designed to emulate beef, meatballs, ground meat, and pork sausage links and patties.
The company was founded by Ethan Brown in 2009. Brown initially contacted two University of Missouri professors, Fu-hung Hsieh and Harold Huff, who had already been refining their meatless protein for years. Beyond Meat’s first product, "Chicken-Free Strips," was released to limited locations in 2012.
The company's first product launched in 2012 was designed to emulate chicken and sold frozen. The product was licensed from Harold Huff and Fu-Hung Hsieh at the University of Missouri. They were made from "soy powder, gluten-free flour, carrot fiber and other ingredients" which were mixed and fed into a food extrusion machine that cooks the mixture while forcing it through a specially designed mechanism that uses steam, pressure, and cold water to form the product's chicken-like texture. Although praised by some celebrities, journalists who tasted it said the "likeness to real chicken was tolerable, at best", and the chicken product was discontinued in 2019.
The company began selling its plant-based chicken products in Whole Foods supermarkets across the US in April 2013. In 2014, it developed a simulated beef product.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals named Beyond Meat as its company of the year for 2013. In 2014, Beyond Meat expanded its presence from 1,500 to 6,000 stores across the US.
The company announced in 2014 that it had begun development of a new product emulating a beef burger, which was released in February 2015.
Walmart started selling Beyond Meat products in 2015.
Over the years 2013-16, the company received venture funding from GreatPoint Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Obvious Corporation, Bill Gates, Biz Stone, the Humane Society and Tyson Foods. Tyson Foods purchased a 5% stake in Beyond Meat in October 2016, but sold its 6.5% stake and exited the investment in April 2019, ahead of the company's initial public offering. By 2018, Beyond Meat had raised US$72 million in venture financing.
In December 2017, the company announced a vegan alternative to pork sausage called "Beyond Sausage". The three varieties of "sausage" were called Bratwurst, Hot Italian, and Sweet Italian.
In June 2018, Beyond Meat opened its second production facility in Columbia, Missouri, resulting in a three-fold increase of the company's manufacturing space. The company claimed to have 27,000 different points of distribution for their products in the United States, and was rolling out their products to fifty international markets, partnering with Tesco in the UK and Tim Hortons and A&W in Canada. The same month, they opened a 26,000-square foot R&D lab in El Segundo, California housing nearly 100 employees. In 2020-1, the company is opening a production facility in Shanghai.
"Beyond Meatballs," a plant-based alternative to traditional meatballs, were first introduced at Subway in 2019 through the Beyond Meatball Marinara sub. In September 2020, Beyond Meat announced the rollout of Beyond Meatballs at select grocery stores across the U.S.
In March 2019, a civil suit was filed against Beyond Meat by its former business partner and supplier, Don Lee Farms. This was prompted by Beyond Meat's switch to different suppliers, who they then shared details with, about the manufacturing process. Don Lee Farms alleged breach of contract, and further alleged that they had expressed "significant concerns" about food safety protocols for raw materials produced at Beyond Meat's facility which were then given to Don Lee Farms for further processing.
As of July 2019, Beyond Meat had a market value of US$11.7 billion, following a value of $3.8 billion on the day of its IPO on 2 May 2019. Beyond Meat trades on the United States NASDAQ exchange under the symbol BYND. In November 2020, Beyond Meat announced sales had only grown by 2% year-on-year compared to an expected increase of 40%. The poor results were blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic reducing foodservice sales.
In July 2019, Dunkin' Donuts announced that they would begin selling breakfast sandwiches using the Meatless Sausage product in Manhattan, with plans for national distribution beginning on November 6, 2019.
In 2020, Beyond Meat launched an e-commerce site to sell products directly to consumers.
In November 2020, Beyond Meat announced a collaboration with McDonald's for development of the McPlant option, a plant-based patty and chicken substitute. It started testing the McPlant in Denmark and Sweden in February 2021. Beyond Meat also announced the launch in China of a plant-based version of minced pork.
Also in January 2021, Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced a joint venture, called The PLANeT Partnership, to develop and market plant-based snacks and drinks.
In January 2021, Taco Bell announced a collaboration with Beyond Meat, initially as a test and then as a permanent option for a new plant-based protein food.
In February 2021, Beyond Meat started a partnership with McDonald's and Yum Brands. These deals will bring new choices to the food menu, such as the McPlant Burger and the plant-protein based pizza toppings, chicken alternatives and possibly taco fillings for Yum Brands' restaurants KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.