- Beyond Meat is launching a smash-style burger — called the Beyond Smashable Burger — for U.S. foodservice outlets at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this weekend.
- The burger, which comes as an unformed patty so restaurant operators can smash it to their preferred size as they cook it, is designed in a format to get the perfect griddle smash and crispy crust, but remain juicy. The burgers come in 2.5 ounce patties.
- Beyond Meat has seen widespread sales and operations challenges in the last year and a half, though the company has been working to move toward profitability. This is the company’s first product launch of 2023.
Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown teased this launch on the call with analysts after the company reported earnings last week. He said that this new burger was getting good reviews from consumers, and that it represented a “true advance in taste and sensory experience.”
The difference between a regular burger and a smash burger is the cooking method. Instead of grilling or cooking a molded thick patty, smash burgers are unformed balls of meat that are crushed thin onto hot griddles to cook. The resulting burgers are seared and extra flavorful. They can also easily be stacked.
In its release announcing the launch, Beyond Meat talked up the performance of the new burger, as well as its nutritional and sustainability benefits. Each Beyond Smashable Burger patty has 13 grams of protein, 35% less saturated fat than one from 80/20 ground beef, and no cholesterol or added soy ingredients.
Smash-style burgers have been growing in popularity as more restaurants feature them on their menus. And, according to Datassential statistics cited by Beyond Meat, the term “plant-based burger” has increased more than 11-fold on restaurant menus in the last four years. A third of consumers said they are interested in plant-based burgers.
This launch comes as Beyond Meat is actively pulling back some of its previous business as it works toward profitability. After a long streak of disappointing quarters, Brown announced a new strategy late last year. Instead of working toward growth above all, the company would instead strive for sustainable growth. Brown said that includes cutting operating expenses — much of which was done last year in two rounds of job cuts — reducing the amount of product made to meet actual demand, and more targeted marketing. Innovation, he said, was not going to be pared back.
Beyond Smashable Burger is the first new product since this new strategy comes into play. And it is hitting the market as the company’s revenues in U.S. foodservice are declining. In the most recent quarter, Beyond Meat’s U.S. foodservice revenues were down 5.3% compared to a year before. From a volume perspective, it sold 7.3% less product to foodservice operators. It was the second straight quarter of U.S. foodservice declines.
While this kind of burger is unlikely to get Beyond Meat into some of the larger U.S. QSR chains, such as McDonald’s, it can help the company build its popularity with some smaller operators. And that could be a boon for Beyond Meat, which in the most recent quarter saw much more success with its international foodservice sales.
On the earnings call, Brown said the dichotomy between the two regions had a lot to do with average consumer perceptions. In Europe, consumers are much more focused on the plant-based category for sustainability reasons. Brown said Beyond Meat is trying to target pockets of U.S. consumers that are more interested in choosing plant-based meat for environmental reasons. Since younger consumers often fit that bill, a trendy restaurant product may be all the more successful.