Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said on CNBC Wednesday he has his eyes set on introducing plant-based food to more consumers this summer as beef supplies fall and prices rise amid a coronavirus pandemic.
Brown, who co-founded the meat substitute producer in 2009 and took it public 10 years later, said the company will introduce “value packs” and discounts with hopes to take market share in time for the summer grilling season
Beyond Meat looks to close the price difference between the vegan burgers it markets and traditional beef burgers, which some see as a challenge to get more consumers to buy into the Beyond Burger wave. The retail price for Beyond Meat’s imitation beef were as much as double and triple the price of ground beef, Wells Fargo found.
As the coronavirus forced a number of U.S. meat companies, including Tyson Foods and Smithfield, to temporarily shut down facilities and curb production in recent weeks, meat prices spiked 8% at U.S. grocery stores near the end of April, based on Nielsen data.
“When you look at beef, which is now at $4.10 a pound on the wholesale markets and you transfer that to retail, we have a fighting chance now as we offer value packs,” said Brown, adding “we’re developing those right now for the summer season.”
Consumers have spent more money on groceries as workers and families quarantined at home to help slow the spread of the deadly virus. Restaurants that have remained open during the outbreak continued offering delivery and carry out services, and some are slowly reintroducing limited dine-in service as states slowly reopen their economies, but it can be expected that eating out will continue to face challenges.
With the warmer months of the year now in full swing, civilians are readying their grills to enjoy the sun in what has proved to be a stressful year. Beyond Meat has long sought to bring down its sticker price and the economic downturn makes that goal more critical as consumers are more cost conscious.
“We’re going to look at the summer as a real opportunity for us to be relevant to the consumer as they’re looking for solutions as the meat supply has been disrupted,” Brown said. “So we’re going to take aggressive pricing over the summer to be able to make our product be much more closer to the animal-protein equivalent.”
Beyond Meat shares surged 26% $126.21 during Wednesday’s session after posting quarterly results the night prior. The company printed a quarter report with strong revenue growth and a surprise profit.
The plant-based food producer more than doubled sales during the three-month period as retailers look to fill their shelves. Sales came in at $97 million, up from $40 million the year prior. Net profit was $1.8 million, or 3 cents per share.
–Reuters contributed to this report.