Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based business and one of the world’s leading producers of plant-based meat substitutes. The company was founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown, and quickly gained momentum, findings its way into Whole Foods stores in 2013, just a year after the release of its first product, “Chicken-Free Strips.” Beyond Meat went public in 2019, at which point it was valued at $1.5 billion and has since become a household name brand.
The plant-based meat business has been rapidly expanding since then through mounting interest in meat alternatives and new partnerships with major companies. According to its Q4 earnings report, the company pulled in a total of $406.8 million throughout the year in 2020 — a 36.6% year-over-year increase, despite supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. Over the past year, Beyond Meat has announced collaborations with McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and PepsiCo.
Impossible Foods is Beyond Meat’s biggest competitor in the plant-based meat industry. The company was founded in 2011 in Redwood City, California by then-Stanford University biochemistry professor Patrick O. Brown, who had spent much time researching how to eliminate animal-intensive farming. The first meat analogue product, the Impossible Burger, was launched by the business in July 2016 to roaring reviews due to its likeness to a regular meat burger.
Like Beyond Meat, the plant-based alternatives company saw success pile on over the next few years. In addition to its own retail stores, the business has a presence in franchises across the US, including White Castle and Burger King. The Impossible Burger, in its most recent iteration, is also available in grocery stores nationwide. Unlike Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods has not made its public debut, though it has plans to in the next year. The plant-based business has raised a total of $1.4 billion in investor funding to date and is expected to be valued at around $10 billion or more when it does hit the New York Stock Exchange.
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are far from the only two companies vying for a slice of the rapidly expanding plant-based meat industry. A number of other big food businesses are venturing into this burgeoning market, including US-based companies Cargill, Kellogg’s, and Hormel. Swiss multinational food and drink conglomerate Nestlé has also launched its own meat alternative brand. As these companies move forward with their technology, they will pose a bigger threat to the disruptive companies currently dominating the market due to their immense resources.
About the Author
Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.