Shares in Beyond Meat are scheduled to begin trading on Thursday, with the fast-growing maker of plant-based meats pricing its initial public offering at the high end of the expected range.

Beyond Meat is going public 10 years after it was founded with the goal of developing plant-based products that would, according to its prospectus, “look, cook, and taste” like meat.

At the $25 per share offering price, the company would raise $241 million from the sale of 9.625 million shares. It had previously raised the expected range to between $23 and $25 apiece from $19 to $21, indicating strong investor demand.

“We believe that consumer awareness of the perceived negative health, environmental and animal-welfare impacts of animal-based meat consumption has resulted in a surge in demand for viable plant-based protein alternatives,” the prospectus said.

Beyond Meat’s sales last year climbed 170% to $87.9 million, while its net loss narrowed slightly to $29.9 million. The Beyond Burger product accounted for most of its sales last year.

With vegans and vegetarians representing less than 5% of the U.S. population, the company has been aiming the Beyond Burger at meat-loving consumers, requesting, for example, that the product be sold in the meat case at grocery retailers.

According to the prospectus, 93% of Kroger shoppers who bought Beyond Burgers over the 26-week period ended June 30, 2018, also purchased animal protein during the same period.

Beyond Meat is betting that plant-based meats will be as successful as non-dairy milk products, which are now equivalent to approximately 13% of the size of the dairy milk category. If plant-based meats grew to be at least the same proportion of the meat category in the U.S., they would represent a $35 billion category, the company said.

However, Forbes questioned whether Beyond Meat’s products “will gain mainstream acceptance as a form of meat, or if they will always be treated as a niche, alternative product.” Competitors include Burger King, which plans to launch a plant-based burger by the end of this year, and Tyson Foods.

Photo: Getty Images

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