For a while, it seemed Beyond Meat was taking over the world.
Its faux burgers and sausages were landing on dinner plates in homes throughout the United States and on the menu boards of chains like Subway, Carl’s Jr. and Starbucks. When the company went public in 2019, its shares skyrocketed as investors bet that the meatless movement was finally having its moment. During the pandemic, Beyond Meat’s grocery store sales surged as curious consumers tried its vegan options.
But these days, Beyond Meat has lost some of its sizzle.
Its stock has slumped nearly 83 percent in the past year. Sales, which the company had expected to rise as much as 33 percent this year, are now likely to show only minor growth. McDonald’s concluded a pilot of the McPlant burger — made with a Beyond Meat patty — this year with no plans to put it on the menu permanently.
In late October, the company said it was laying off 200 people, or 19 percent of its work force. And four top executives have departed in recent months, including the chief financial officer, the chief supply chain officer and the chief operating officer, whom Beyond Meat had suspended after his arrest on allegations that he bit another man’s nose in a parking garage altercation.
What investors and others are debating now is whether Beyond Meat’s struggles are specific to the company or a harbinger of deeper issues in the plant-based meat industry.
“At the category level, we’re seeing volumes for plant-based meats down 22 consecutive months now,” said John Baumgartner, a consumer food analyst at the financial institution Mizuho Americas.
A few years ago, investors expected the category to explode with growth year after year, Mr. Baumgartner said. Now, he said, those expectations are being reconsidered.
“We’re positive on the future for plant-based meat, but this is a 20- to 25-year story,” he said. “It’s not going to happen in three to five to 10 years.”
Some say the slowdown in sales is a product of…
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