- Beyond Meat estimates roughly 70% of the customers who buy its plant-based Beyond Burger are meat eaters, according to a recent article on Food Navigator. The company calls this demographic "flexitarians," a group of consumers who eat proteins such as beef and chicken, but are cutting back on their meat intake.
- The plant-based meat maker also reports triple-digit revenue growth in 2017, thanks to the popularity of its Beyond Burger and frozen products.
- Beyond Burger is largely sold in the refrigerated meat department at grocery stores, as opposed to the vegan/vegetarian section. This controversial decision has paid off as evidenced by both the product's growth and appeal to non-vegetarian customers, Seth Goldman, the company's executive chairman, told the food publication.
Selling veggie patties next to beef hamburgers was an unconventional move when Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger came on the market. However, this unusual strategy has resulted in broadening the plant-based burger’s appeal to meat eaters, and subsequently driven increased sales.
Unlike prior plant proteins parading as meat alternatives that vaguely looked like their meaty cousins, but lacked the taste and texture, Beyond Burger has changed the market for meat equivalents by offering a product that strongly resembles a real beef patty. The burgers are pink in the middle, and even ‘bleed’ and sizzle on the grill, adding an extra beefy aesthetic for meat-loving consumers. The product has proven to be a hit, with Kroger, Safeway, Publix and Whole Foods among the companies that carry it. The life-like feel and taste of the burger has been crucial to allowing it to nab carnivore-loving meat eaters.
The fact that 70% of the people buying the plant-based burger are carnivores is a testament to just how realistic they taste, and how effective Beyond Meat has been in marketing its product. Today, it is found in more than 5,000 grocery stores and 4,000-plus restaurants about 20 months after it launched.
In addition to its taste and texture, the creation of flexitarians has helped drive interest in Beyond Burgers. This group of consumers aren’t opposed to eating meat, but they are reducing their intake for reasons such as health, sustainability and ethical treatment questions, as well as environmental impacts.
Mintel reported in 2017 that close to half of British consumers who were interested in or were already reducing their meat consumption did so for health reasons. Weight management (29%) was the next most popular motivator, with concern over animal welfare (24%) and the environment (24%) rounding out the reasons to cut back on steak, sausages and other meat.
Beyond Meat has been rewarded for its efforts in the plant-based protein section with reported triple-digit growth in 2017. It has garnered a unique list of investors, including the Humane Society of the United States, General Mills, as well as Tyson Foods, which recently increased its ownership stake. Following the successful roll out of its plant-based burger, Beyond Meat has launched Beyond Sausage, a plant-based alternative to pork sausage made with pea protein isolate, coconut oil and sunflower oil.
By investing in R&D to develop a burger that closely resembles a traditional beef patty in both appearance and taste, and then pushing to have it sold next to the product it was imitating, reinforces the company’s desire to appeal to meat-eating consumers. This strategy has paid off, and will likely continue to, with forecasts showing that demand for plant-based proteins is not expected to slow down anytime soon.