30 June 2022
The enthusiasm shown by investors for plant-based meat products, or “meatless meat” appears to have fizzled out since the halcyon days of US market leader, Beyond Meat, being valued at $15 billion. Only as recently as December 2021, the stock price of Beyond Meat was hovering around $100 per share. And now? The shine has gone off this stock that is now valued at about one fifth of its value six months ago. And the reason is, quite simply, flagging consumer purchases as products such as Beyond Meat are for many a “one meal wonder”. The plant-based meat business failed to attract committed customers and hence repeat purchases. According to an article in Forbes, meatless meat only managed to scratch the surface of the meat consumer market by reaching about 1% of national US sales. With around 100 meatless start-ups in the US alone, it is hardly surprising that the weaker companies have been absorbed or fallen by the wayside. Back in 2019, when Beyond Meat was launched, there was plenty of positive press for vegan and plant-based foods that were going to reduce the amount of meat eaten in the US and by extension the number of cattle whose burps were responsible for generating the climate-warming GHG, methane. Campaigns were launched in the US encouraging people to eat less meat with catchy slogans such as “Meatless Mondays”. Even McDonalds and Burger King began to cater to the vegan palette by introducing meat-free burgers on to their menus. Plant-based meat companies had to attract or convert meat eaters into consumers of their products as, according to a 2020 survey, only 2% of the US population is vegetarian. The narrative about livestock being an existential threat due to their methane-laden burps and plant-based foods being healthier and more beneficial for the environment, have fallen on death ears of the consumers and now of the investors.

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