Beyond Meat plans to lay off 200 employees

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According to a regulatory filing released Monday, producers of plant-based meat substitutes El Segundo Beyond plans to lay off about 200 employees. This is the equivalent of approximately 20% of the company’s total workforce.

Beyond cited declining sales of its alternative meat products as the reason for the layoffs and aims to reduce operating expenses with the aim of becoming cash flow positive again by the second half of 2023. more staff cuts before the end. of this year.

Among the staff eliminated was Chief Growth Officer and North American President Deanna Jurgens, who will officially leave the company on Monday and not be replaced in her role. CFO Philip Hardin also plans to step down; the current vice president of financial planning, Lubi Kutua, will replace him. Beyond shares were already down 87% from their 52-week high; the stock was trading at $12.76 earlier this week, putting its total market value below $900 million.

Just a few years ago, in 2018 and 2019, plant-based meat substitutes were a food craze in the United States. Since Burger King introduced the Whopper impossible on menus nationwide at Dunkin’ Donuts embraces of Beyond the sausage in breakfast sandwiches, plant-based meats were ending up on supermarket menus and shelves and in the mouths of Americans. But while these meatless options remain widely availablethey have undeniably started to gain popularity among consumers.

Beyond the first report sales below expectations at the end of 2021, with U.S. revenue falling by around 14% year-on-year compared to 2020, mainly due to weaker demand from supermarkets and grocers. Alternative meat producers Maple Leaf Foods also reported declines in each of their sales categories in the middle and end of last year, pledging in November to reassess their overall “investment thesis”. But the new year only tightened the belt: according to data from analytics firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI), sales of plant-based meats are not only flat but down this year, with chilled versions (like those sold in supermarkets) down 10.5 % compared to 2021 figures.

There are a variety of potential reasons for this sudden slowdown. The first and most obvious is economics: plant-based alternatives like Beyond’s meat substitutes are more expensive than their traditional farmed counterparts. Many shoppers who are part-time vegetarians but have not changed their diet entirely will revert to conventional meat-based diets rather than paying a premium for healthier or more environmentally and animal-friendly alternatives.

Due to inflation and recession fears, more and more Americans are cutting back on food spending and eating more meals at home. But traditionally, many people have enjoyed Beyond’s alternative meat products. exclusively at the restaurantso an increase in home cooking may also mean a drop in meat alternatives.

These are just the practical concerns of the kitchen table. Deloitte Consulting has also observed a shift in public opinion around products such as Beyond’s meat alternatives: a survey of 2,000 customers in July showed an overall drop in belief that plant-based meats are healthier and more environmentally friendly than conventional meat products. (While there remains some debate about the actual validity of these claims, most studies seem to support the idea that consumption of meat substitutes is better for the planet and probably healthyotherwise a little healthierthan a traditional meat-based diet.)

A few years ago, vegetable meats remained a novelty appreciated by many customers. curious try. Today, those who want a taste of Beyond, Impossible, or one of their competing products have most likely already done so, leaving brands to rely on established fans rather than benefit from curiosity and insight. a more widespread and common paddle thrust. Traditional food companies and the beef industry were also able to calibrate and develop a strategy around this new challenge; the answer leading to an increase in negative messages about plant-based diets in the media.

There’s also an undeniable cultural element here, separate from the actual pros or cons of so-called “fake meat.” Among certain segments of the American population, plant-based meats — along with other vegetarian and vegan dining options — are now seen as part of an elitist or progressive political agenda. A plan to add The plant-based sausage of the Impossible on the menu of the Southern-themed restaurant chain, based in Tennessee, Cracker Barrell was enthusiastically received by many longtime customers complaining that their favorite restaurant was “going to wake up”. Impossible’s sausage products are made from soy protein, and soy remains a particularly hated ingredient among many in the so-called just rightas anyone labeled a “Soy Boy” on Twitter can attest.

Only time will tell if meat-alternative proteins are here to stay despite the recent sales slump, or if the dream of fake meat as more than a momentary Crystal Pepsi-like fad was truly impossible. -Lon Harris

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