- Beyond Meat has filed for a trademark on the name Beyond Milk, according to documents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The plant-based food company applied for the trademark on Aug. 12.
- The document filed with the U.S. government agency said the patent would cover "making milk shakes; coffee or tea beverages with milk or milk substitutes."
- Beyond Meat has focused largely for much of its existence on hamburgers and sausages made of plants. But the success of companies like Oatly in plant-based milk have attracted the interest of other businesses looking to grab market share in the fast-growing space.
While little is known about what plant-based milk beverages Beyond Meat would make, or whether it will enter the category at all, the company is at the very least protecting its options going forward with its trademark application for Beyond Milk.
Beyond Meat is one of the most successful upstarts in the last decade with its plant-based meats that taste more like the real thing.
But as a publicly trade company with shareholders hungry for growth, the California business is looking for more channels to enter as it aims to build out the Beyond Meat name with consumers looking to end or curtail consumption of products from animals. It's also facing a daunting list of competitors with products in many of the same categories it plays in, including Nestlé, Kellogg, Conagra Brands and Impossible Foods.
Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat's CEO, said during the company's earnings call this month that it recently launched Beyond Chicken Tenders, available at various restaurants. The plant-based manufacturer has a long history with faux chicken, having first produced strips in 2012 before removing them from shelves in 2019.
Milk and milk-based offerings would be a logical next step for Beyond Meat. While it by no means guarantees success, the Beyond name would likely give the product instant recognition and increase the likelihood that retailers will want to carry it and consumers will try it.
Beyond Meat also has the assurance that plant-based milks, at least for now, are a category more consumers are willing to try.
Plant-based milk saw a huge increase in sales during the pandemic, especially in the first months of the health crisis. Oat milk has been among the biggest beneficiaries, with sales 212% higher from March through Oct. 3 last year compared to the same time period in 2019, according to Nielsen. It's a big reason why Oatly, the Swedish company that invented and popularized oat milk, completed its IPO in May. This week it posted its first earnings report as a public company, with revenue during its second quarter up 53% from the same time a year ago.
Still, unlike Beyond Meat, which has seen its stock soar since its 2019 IPO, Oatly's stock recently dipped below its $17 IPO price. In recent weeks it has been accused by short-seller Spruce Point of overstating its revenue and margins and misleading the public about its sustainability efforts, allegations the company has vehemently denied. Such claims, even if untrue, have the unintended impact of causing some to question the long-term growth prospects of the category.
Similar to beef and chicken, Beyond would have its fair share of competitors in milk. Chobani has moved its product lineup beyond Greek yogurt with offerings that include an oat-based milk. Other players in the space include the Jeff Bezos-backed NotCo's NotMilk, Elmhurst and dairy giant Danone.
And last year, Beyond Meat competitor Impossible Foods showed off a prototype of one of its future products: Impossible Milk. CEO Pat Brown said at the time the product would be an important offering for the company, helping it follow through on its goal of reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture while replacing existing plant-based milks that are inadequate.