- Plant-based meat brand Beyond Meat has received a non-GMO verification for its products after a one-year review, according to Food Navigator.
- This privately held company debuted its Beyond Burger in 2016 and has since sold more than 25 million even though they reported that an estimated 70% of their consumers are meat eaters. Its products can be found in 10,000 grocery stores and more than 10,000 food service locations.
- “We believe the best way to serve the family is through a commitment to all-natural, non-GMO ingredients when building meat directly from plants. Though these tough guardrails make it harder for our scientists, we feel it is the right long run decision for Beyond Meat and our consumers,” said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.
Beyond Meat is on a mission to recreate the taste, texture and appeal of meat with plant-based ingredients, and they are doing it with the aim of attracting hardcore carnivores.
While veggie burgers are nothing new, a burger that is made from vegetables but tastes like the real deal is. With the increase in interest in non-meat proteins, everyone from Tyson Foods to the Humane Society of the United States is taking note as scrappy startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods hunker down in laboratories to deconstruct animal proteins to understand them at a molecular level and re-create a passable substitute.
Unsurprisingly, modern science is helping Beyond Meat succeed in its goal. With roughly 70% of the customers who buy its plant-based Beyond Burger being meat eaters, the company has underscored a new category of consumer: the flexitarian.
A report published in 2015 by NPD Group, Midan Marketing and Meatingplace, a trade publication, found 70% of consumers who eat meat are substituting a non-meat protein in their meal at least once a week. And of that total, 22% said they are using non-meat proteins more often than the year before — a sign of the growth potential in the category.
One problem, however, is for those who are concerned with the natural aspect of their food. Many of the ingredients, like pea protein and modified food starches, that Beyond Meat employs are known for often being genetically modified. Although not an issue for everyone, an International Food Information Council survey said about half of consumers (47%) don't worry about whether foods contain GMOs, there remains 41% who do consider their presence when purchasing food.
By validating that their products are GMO-free, Beyond Meat is appealing to two sets of customers. Both vegetarians and meat eaters who are purchasing their products are likely people who are concerned with the modification of their ingredients. Due to the price point of their faux-meat, Beyond Meat is competing directly with high-end, hormone-free, grass-fed animal products — the type of product that that those who are concerned with the treatment of animals often buy. Similarly, consumers who are vegetarian are often acutely aware of the impact their food choices have on the environment and health, which are two things that GMO ingredients directly affect.
Procuring this GMO-free designation also sets Beyond Meat apart from its primary competitor Impossible Foods who use oft-modified, soy-based ingredients in their products. By earning this label, Beyond Meat is positioning themselves apart to compete not only on taste but also on quality and conscientiousness of its ingredients. It is a move that will serve them well in the future as the space becomes more crowded with plant-based meat that replicates the real thing.