Beyond Meat Sales Plummet 30% As Consumers Question Ingredients

It used to be that people questioned what was in hot dogs and sausages, but now the same scrutiny is being applied to purveyors who don't even sell meat-based products, as evidenced by Beyond Meat's recent 30% drop in sales. Questions are being raised about the vegan meat alternative, particularly its ingredients and the amount of processing that goes into the patties and sausages.

Beyond Meat uses a proprietary fake meat blend that is created from a range of ingredients, including water, pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavors, dried yeast, cocoa butter, and methylcellulose, as well as less than 1% of potato starch, salt, potassium chloride, beet juice color, apple extract, pomegranate concentrate, sunflower lecithin, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, and vitamins and minerals.

Some consumers may be searching for meat alternative products with easier-to-understand ingredients that have long been staples of vegan cuisine, like chickpeas. For their part, Beyond Meat has pushed back on criticisms that their products are ultra-processed. Recently, the company released an ad campaign that seeks to pull back the curtain on how they source and create their foodstuffs. President and CEO Ethan Brown told ABC News that it comes down to education. "We're going to be much more aggressive in our marketing," he said. "The facts are there. The health benefits of our products are very strong."

Sales tumble as McPlant fails to take root

The company's earnings took a hit in the last quarter, failing to meet expectations set by analysts and prompting Beyond Meat to forecast a 9% drop in overall sales for the year. Additionally, other companies that produce vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes have announced a slump in sales or have pulled underperforming products from the market, including giants like Nestlé.

Beyond Meat is experiencing setbacks on a number of fronts, from rising interest rates around the globe, inflation, and fear that an economic recession is still ahead. Meat alternatives are regularly priced above processed meat, and Beyond Meat's competitors who offer a simpler product are able to undercut them as well. The company also had one of their major projects shelved. Beyond Meat was the supplier for the McDonald's McPlant burger, which debuted in a trial run to much ballyhoo as the chain's first fake meat option. But sales failed to materialize in a significant way for the McPlant and the trial run was quietly ended in the U.S., though the plant-based burgers remain available at some international locations.