- Beyond Meat made an explosive stock-market debut on Thursday, with shares surging by as much as 163%.
- The meat-substitute company has spent the last decade trying to win over meat eaters, making deals with chains including TGI Fridays and Del Taco.
- CEO Ethan Brown argues that ethical consumption is marketable, with Beyond Meat mentioning "human health, climate change, resource conservation and animal welfare" in its SEC filings.
- "It costs a lot of money to go out and buy a Tesla," Brown told Business Insider. "It takes $6 to buy the Beyond Burger and make a statement about what you believe in."
Beyond Meat’s IPO was nothing short of explosive.
The meat-substitute company’s shares skyrocketed following its debut on Thursday, at one point surging as much as 163% and boosting the company’s valuation to more than $3 billion.
But, in an interview with Business Insider on Thursday afternoon, cofounder and CEO Ethan Brown said he is more focused on the long term.
"More so than worrying about competition, I worry about how we make the products that we currently have on the shelf obsolete by improving them," Brown said.
Courtesy of Beyond Meat
Brown’s ultimate goal and Beyond Meat’s "true north" is creating the perfect replication of meat. Currently, Brown says, the company is 70% there. Items such as sausage and burgers — like the iconic Beyond Burger — are easier to make than products such as steak and bacon, he says.
But, Beyond Meat is set to try and win over meat lovers of all breeds.
Beyond Meat was founded in 2009 by Brown, who baked socially conscious messaging into the brand from the beginning. Beyond Meat is built on the idea that ethical consumption is marketable — its prospectus summary mentions "human health, climate change, resource conservation and animal welfare" before the first paragraph is over.
At the same time, Brown says that Beyond Meats purposefully avoids any condemnation of carnivores.
The company emphasizes that it has an audience outside the vegetarian and vegan crowd. 93% of people who purchased Beyond Burgers at Kroger in the first half of 2018 also bought animal products in the same period, according to the grocery chain.
Beyond Meat’s products are sold at major grocery chains including Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods. Chains including Bareburger and TGI Fridays have the Beyond Burger on the menu, while Del Taco serves Beyond Tacos.
Brown says that Beyond Meats is pro-carnivore in part simply because it means more potential customers. While the plant-based food industry generates an estimated $13 billion in sales annually throughout the US economy, Brown says that meat is a $1.4 trillion business — more than 100 times greater.
"While protein was really important to our evolution and did great things for us from an evolutionary perspective, it also gave us a pretty big brain that we can work with to figure out how to innovate in this most fundamental area," Brown said.
Beyond Meat’s moral code also has some financial benefits. Brown says that Gen Z and younger millennials are increasingly driven by their values when shopping, making them more likely to pick a Beyond Meat product over a less-environmentally friendly meat option.
"It costs a lot of money to go out and buy a Tesla," Brown said. "It takes $6 to buy the Beyond Burger and make a statement about what you believe in."
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