In the wake of McDonald’s decision to test a plant-based menu item, we look at the future of fake meat and which companies are most likely to dominate it.
Last week, McDonald’s became the latest fast-food giant to join in on the fake meat craze when it revealed plans to test a plant-based burger made out of Beyond Meat patties. The menu item, which is currently limited to certain McDonald’s outlets in Canada, will allow the company to gauge “customer demand” and “impact on restaurant operations,” according to top executive Ann Wahlgren.
Of course, McDonald’s is only the latest and highest-profile company to get on board. Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’, and many others all now offer plant-based products. Few investing trends are more talked-about nowadays than the alternative meat space, and the partnership between the biggest name in fast food history and one of fake meat’s rising avatars seems to indicate that it’s early days yet for the so-called bloodless revolution.
1. Beyond Meat
Based in Los Angeles, Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) was founded in 2009 by activist-entrepreneur Ethan Brown. Following several rounds of venture funding, the company released its first simulated meat products on to supermarket shelves in 2013. The combination of solid branding and an innovative offering helped Beyond quickly gain serious traction, and by 2018, its products had been rolled out to almost 50 international markets.
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After a blockbuster IPO in May, the company’s share price went through the roof over the summer, hitting astonishing highs of over 800%. We’ve since seen a perhaps inevitable climb-down since then, as well as the equally inevitable backlash against the hype surrounding the company. However, the aforementioned McDonald’s deal makes it clear Beyond Meat’s future is as exciting as its recent past, with or without the hype.
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2. Tyson Foods (TSN)
A giant among giants, Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) has been feeding America since before the Second World War. Perhaps an unlikely inclusion, the company has nonetheless made a series of strategic bets in recent years through its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures, on meat-substitute meats. Early last year, Tyson invested in Memphis Meats, Future Meat Technologies, and purchased a 6.5% stake in Beyond Meat itself. In April, the company quietly sold these shares, citing internal tensions.
However, Tyson Foods’ connection to the fake meat industry is not merely a tangential one. A few months ago, the company unveiled a pea-based alternative chicken nugget product of its own, placing itself in direct competition with its upstart peers. Because its core business is so large and diverse — and its production and distribution capabilities so powerful — an investment in Tyson Foods is therefore protected from some of the risks that are bound to plague an emerging industry.
3. The Kellogg Company
The Michigan-based food manufacturer behind some of the world’s best-loved breakfast cereals, The Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) has seen its stock grow steadily since its IPO in 1979. Indeed, the company is celebrating four decades as a globally-recognized public company this year.
Founded back in 1898 as a health-food maker, the company soon came to fame with its iconic Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes cereal. More than a century has passed since then and Kelloggs has proven adept at tailoring its offering to changing public demand through product diversification and ambitious acquisitions.
One of the Kellogg’s lesser-known forays has been into the alt-meat world. In September, the company promised that its new “Incogmeato” line of meatless products will be available by 2020. While it is entering a crowded market, Kellogg already boasts a trusted name brand. On top of that, the company’s vegetarian burger is already the most popular one out there. Its push into innovative meat substitutes could turn out to be the real thing or the real fake thing.
MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Beyond Meat and The Kellogg Company. Read our full disclosure policy here.