Bad times for vegan meat that was born a few years ago to take the place of the traditional meat industry. Beyond Meat, one of the pioneers in creating 100% vegetable burgers, going through a bad time. If the economic part was not enough, one that is not benevolent with the rest of the companies in the sector, now the multinational is facing an image problem. advanced by Bloomberg With information from company employees, several images have been seen in which one of the Beyond Meat packaging factories would be infected by mold and bacteria.
According to advances from the North American media, the Beyond Meat packaging factory located in Pennsylvania would have been maintaining its health problems for several years. Although the company points out that the health inspections would have been constant by the local health authorities. Nail inspections known to be limited, which means that the inspectors did not access the contaminated areas in question. In any case, the images – corroborated by other workers – point to mold growing on the walls, boxes of cooking products and containers.
Likewise, several tests of contaminated products were also provided. Specifically due to listeria, a common bacterium in the meat industry that, if present in raw food, can end in food poisoning. According to reports, there would be up to 56 contamination tests between 2021 and 2022. Also cases of out-of-date products, as well as threads or plastics inside food.
They were not the only ones in any case. Beyond Meat would have already faced cases of cross-contamination on several occasions, tracked in the Canadian region this year and forcing the withdrawal of several of its products from the shelves. In that case, pieces of wood were found inside packages of Beyond Meat’s vegan meat.
In parallel, the inhabitants near the Beyond Meat plant in Pennsylvania have also expressed their complaints. The bad smells and noise they would be constants in the fake meat packing factory.
Beyond Meat: problems in factories and with investors
The rise of vegan or vegetable meat companies understood under the concept of startup in the purest Silicon Valley style made sense at the time they started. The so-called environmental anxiety and the rise of new food models created the ideal breeding ground. Add to that the bad press that the livestock industry had been generating with its bad environmental data: are responsible for more than 14% of CO₂ emissions. And we all know that where there is a problem and there is an audience, there is a startup and investors willing to take advantage of it.
Said and done, together with Beyond Meat a whole group of companies emerged with different bets and proposals. From meat grown in the laboratory – still pending approval from the corresponding agencies – to those that imitated the color and flavor of meat based on vegetable products. Oatly, Impossible Foods, in Spain Heura, Nova Meat or Perdue, among many others, were born under the wing of the new food industry.
The problem is that everything that goes up tends to go down. And in the ecosystem of technology companies the trend is now downward. The closed investment tap, the economic uncertainty in full swing and the increase in operating costs are also passing closely to this entire ecosystem. On average, the new food industry has left 51% of its value on the stock market during the last year. 36% if we take into account the last two years. Beyond Meat ups the ante and goes down to 80%. Although it is true that the traditional industry has fallen 12% in the last year and 7% in the last two, the trend of new business models continues to win losses.
They never managed to convince the carnivores
Beyond Meat was the spearhead of something that ended up infecting the rest of the companies. The vegetable meat technology company, which had raised 122 million dollars in 12 rounds of financing, had touched the stock market sky in the three years in which it has been listed. From going from the 239 dollars per share that it reached, the last few weeks have been a catastrophe for the company, close to 15 dollars. In a matter of weeks, the milestone of the vegetable market has lost the approval of investors with some results that do not finish convincing.
The simplest reason is that, as in other sectors, the bubble is bursting. It is true that in the face of the climate emergency, new eating habits have been installed. But the reality is that the massive effect of plant-based meat like Beyond Meat hasn’t been as strong as expected.
The initial push was accompanied by strong marketing campaigns, one even partnering with Burger King. The problem is that this did not go beyond being an anecdote and did not achieve its objective: to be a true substitute. Vegans and vegetarians were already convinced, but the mass audience – the carnivore – never put it as a viable option. It was only a temporary entertainment that, moreover, was not accompanied by the price. On average more expensive than the hated real meat.