UPDATE: April 27, 2021: The reformulated Beyond Burger, designed to taste meatier and juicier with 35% less fat and fewer calories than 80/20 ground beef, will arrive in grocery stores next week. It will be sold in two-patty packs, first-for-the-brand four-patty packs and one-pound packages of Beyond Meat grounds. The burgers will be available early this weekend in pop-ups in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.
- Two new versions of the Beyond Burger — one reformulated to be meatier and one reformulated to be more nutritious — will be available to consumers in 2021, Beyond Meat announced. The two new versions will have the same taste profile, lower overall fat and fewer calories than 80/20 beef, and B vitamins and minerals comparable to those in beef, the company says.
- These new burgers will be officially launched nationwide early next year. The meatier one boasts the company's juiciest patty and will have 35% less saturated fat than its beef equivalent, while the one with amped-up nutrition will have 55% less saturated fat than 80/20 beef.
- Plant-based meat companies are constantly reformulating to enhance their products' nutritional and taste profiles. The goal is to make the burgers as close to conventional meat as possible in all respects because almost 9 in 10 plant-based meat consumers also eat meat, according to an NPD Group study cited by NBC News. The last well-publicized reformulation of the Beyond Burger was in June 2019. It resulted in a burger that tasted meatier and looked more like a conventional burger.
With a pair of reformulations it's touting in a press release as "the next step forward in cutting-edge innovation," Beyond Meat is doing exactly what every other company in the space is doing: striving toward perfecting its product.
The method it's using, however, is different than other options in the plant-based space. While other plant-based meat companies launch new versions of their burgers that use different seasonings to taste like different preparations of meat, none have released different variations that dial up different aspects of their plant-based core. Many details about these new Beyond offerings haven't been disclosed expect for the fact they will include a meatier option and a healthier one.
In a release emailed to Food Dive, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said these new varieties are an example of the company's commitment to delivering plant-based options that are better for both consumers and the planet.
"Just as you can find different varieties of ground beef, consumers will now have more choice to satisfy their individual nutritional needs and preferences," Brown said.
As a leader in plant-based meat, it makes sense that Beyond Meat would be leading the pack to diversify its products. Meat consumers are used to having different choices among ground beef and burgers dealing with fat content and cattle breed. But the question is whether consumers are ready to face choice — beyond the ones dealing with brand and price — in the plant-based meat aisle. After all, taste, texture and function are all integral parts of the success of plant-based meat products.
It's possible the two variations may eventually meld into one reformulation. According to a transcript of a call with investors last week, Brown referred to the launch as "Beyond Burger 3.0" — not a pair of new launches.
"We've done extensive consumer testing on it. It did better than our current version, which is always something we want to do," Brown said. "We want to make our current version obsolete. It absolutely [did] very well against competition and started to scratch a little bit on some characteristics around 80/20. So something I'm excited to get out and it represents, I think, continued growth for us."
As competition is getting stiffer in the plant-based meat space, it is smart for companies to offer something new. It's not clear how the taste, nutrition, ingredients and pricing of these new Beyond Burgers stack up against others in the space. Considering the interest consumers have in plant-based food right now given its bright health halo, the new offerings are likely to be a win for the company. They're also a good way to change the storyline for Beyond Meat, which spent much of last week working to explain its role in McDonald's forthcoming McPlant sandwich.