The Food Industry Is Fighting Back Against The ‘Beyond Meat’ Revolution

The rising meat-alternative revolution and its poster child, ‘Beyond Meat’, has come under attack from one of corporate America’s biggest PR names

Feb. 7, 2020

At this point, most investors have heard about the meteoric rise — and fall — and rise again of Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) since its whirlwind IPO in May 2019. Even if it is not at the 700%+ heights of last summer, the stock is still up nearly 350% to date. In comparison, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA: VOO) is up around 14% in the same time frame. 

However, corporate America’s attack dog is taking aim at the meatless revolution, and the meat-free industry is squaring for a dirty fight. 

Who is attacking Beyond Meat?

Well-known lobbyist Richard Berman, CEO of ‘The Center for Consumer Freedoms’ is taking on the meat-free craze with companies such as Beyond and Impossible Foods in his crosshairs. The CCF describes itself as a non-profit “devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices”, and is now funded by food industry players hurting from the rise of fake meat, ‘from farm to fork’. Berman is known best for his role in antagonizing activist groups on behalf of industries like Big Tobacco. 

The problem is that you probably didn’t even notice the attack on meat-free. The CCF ran a Super Bowl commercial depicting a spelling bee contestant being asked to spell the word “methylcellulose,” which the judge defines as “a chemical laxative that is also used in synthetic meat.”

Not exactly subtle…

Methylcellulose is a tasteless food additive that is contained in Beyond and Impossible food products. A 2018 post by Mayo Clinic said there is no evidence that using fiber supplements like methylcellulose is harmful. This is not the first attack by Berman & Co. as his groups have run scathing newspaper ad attacks against the fake meat revolution in recent months. In November the CCF took out a full-page ad in The New York Post criticizing plant-based meat followed by a December advert in the Chicago Tribune. 

How did Beyond Meat respond? 

A spokesperson for Beyond hit back in a statement, saying that they were not surprised by the meat industry spreading “misleading information that confuses consumers.” Impossible Foods went one step further and released a mock ad featuring its CEO Pat Brown, claiming there’s “poop in the ground beef we make from cows.”

Beyond Meat has other problems to deal with at the moment, not least of them being the rising competition from big players such as Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) and The Kellogg Company (NYSE: K). However, its CFO Mark Nelson is also in a spot of bother, facing a fraud suit from Beyond’s old partner, Don Lee Farms. The potential costs of the suit remain a mystery, and the process has been kept relatively under wraps, but legal costs are piling up and should a prolonged suit ensue, and result in Don Lee’s favor, it could be catastrophic for the brand.

Beyond Meat still has plenty to be optimistic about

Despite a bit of a relapse in the past week of trading, BYND stock is still up more than 30% since the start of the year, with several key partnerships still in play. Despite losing Tim Horton’s at the end of January, Beyond still boasts McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), Dunkin’ Donuts (NASDAQ: DNKN) and Del Taco (NASDAQ: TACO) amongst its customers, alongside several other big brands. 

There has even been speculation that Beyond is seeking to align with coffee megabrand Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) after the coffee maker announced it would be expanding its meat-free range. The news from Starbucks’ earnings in mid-January sent BYND shares soaring 19% in a single day. 

Plant-based penetration in the global meat market will steadily climb toward 10% over the next decade according to analysts, and Beyond is in a very good position to become the biggest name in a market potentially worth $28 billion by 2025.

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MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Beyond Meat. Read our full disclosure policy here.