EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. – Beyond Meat, Inc.’s innovation philosophy is to continuously improve. As the list of competitors in the market for meat alternatives continues to grow, the maker of the Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage is continually seeking to upgrade product quality and reduce price points.
“Nobody wants to replace the products that say Beyond Meat on the shelf more than Beyond Meat itself,” said Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer, during a June 10 investor webinar hosted by William Blair & Co. LLC. “So, if you’re chasing us by trying to replicate the current product on the shelf, you’re going to be chasing a ghost because we have moved on in our own facilities and research centers to a better product, and we are eager to continue to get those out into the marketplace.”
But the goal, Mr. Brown said, isn’t just to stay ahead of the competition. It’s to build such a big lead that it makes it much harder for competitors to follow. He cited companies like Amazon and Tesla as examples of businesses employing such practices.
On the pricing front, Beyond Meat is adding value packs to get closer to matching the price of conventional beef.
“We're now providing a consumer with a 10-pack product that will go in the frozen section, and that allows us to almost half the retail pricing in some instances of our products on a per pound basis,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s not going to underprice beef even at these historic highs, but it will get within striking range. And that’s what’s important because we want to see how the consumer reacts to that this summer.”
Complementing the introduction of the value packs will be a marketing campaign designed to highlight the ingredients and processes used by the company to manufacture its products. The campaign will focus on consumer education, but also the introduction of the value packs in the frozen meat section of retail stores. Mr. Brown said the marketing effort is about driving consumer trial.
“One of the most important things that Beyond Meat can do as a brand is get the product into people’s mouths because they start to believe in it and they start to understand the noise out there about processed ingredients really isn’t true,” he said. “If you look at the back of the package, it’s a clean label.”
Other initiatives underway at the company include the launch of a direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce program and the development of plant-based chicken. Of the DTC program, Mr. Brown said it will be launching soon, but that “I wouldn’t say we’re betting the farm on it.”
Regarding a plant-based chicken product, Mr. Brown said the company is “working very hard on that” and “you’ll be seeing us come out in the near term with a nice improved product in the chicken space.”