Earnings

US Meat Shortage Boosts Fortunes Of Plant-Based Meat Firms

Plant-Based Firms Thrive Amid US Meat Shortage

Not every company is suffering as the world’s economy has come to a virtual standstill and the pandemic death toll rises.

Beyond Meat Inc., a plant-based meat manufacturer, reported big gains Tuesday (May 5) in first-quarter sales — as things have only gotten better since the coronavirus pandemic has closed some traditional slaughterhouses and prompted shortages of real meat to develop.

“I am proud of our first-quarter financial results, which exceeded our expectations despite an increasingly challenging operating environment due to the COVID-19 health crisis," Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown said in announcing a 141 percent jump in the company’s net revenues, which rose to $97 million.

Net income also jumped to $1.8 million (3 cents per common diluted share) from a $6.6 million net loss (95 cents per common share) in the year-ago period.

The results came even though the coronavirus outbreak temporarily dented Beyond Meat’s business in March. But since then, total U.S. sales of plant-based meat substitutes industrywide have soared. Consumer-data group Nielsen reported a 200 percent year-over-year gain in plant-based meat sales in the week ending April 18, as well as a 265 percent increase over an eight-week period, according to the Financial Times (FT).

The gains have come as closures of slaughterhouses due to worker illnesses threaten production of the real thing, FT reported. A looming shortage of real meat has meant that nearly one-fifth of Wendy’s U.S. restaurants are out of beef, according to a Stephens Inc. study. Analyst James Rutherford said a study of online menus for every Wendy’s location nationwide revealed 1,043 restaurants, or 18 percent of the fast food chain’s locations, listed beef items as out of stock.

On Monday (May 4), PYMNTS reported that Costco became the latest retailer to limit fresh-meat purchases due to processing plant slowdowns from the pandemic. The chain has temporarily limited sales of three items of beef, pork and poultry.

But the story is looking much tastier for meat substitutes. Beyond Meat competitor Impossible Foods announced a deal Tuesday to sell the Impossible Burger, its flagship faux-meat product, in 1,700 U.S. Kroger-owned stores. The news came just days after the company announced that the burger would be in more than 1,000 U.S. grocery stores.

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