By Carlo Versano
Beyond Meat, the purveyor of plant-based proteins meant to recreate the taste and texture of meat, has filed for an initial public offering that will help it develop new foods with far-reaching implications that may touch climate change, the obesity epidemic, and world hunger.
The nine-year-old California-based company has lines of protein-rich, meat-substitute products billed as vegan replacements for chicken, beef, and sausage that are both healthier and remarkably similar in taste. The Beyond Meat lines are available at grocers like Whole Foods and Tesco in the UK, and are on the menus of restaurants including Bareburger, A&W, and TGI Fridays.
Beyond Meat will list on the NASDAQ under the ticker BYND. The offering size was proposed at $100 million, although that figure is a placeholder that is likely to change.
Beyond Meat gained recognition when it became clear that its products had the potential to do what the Boca and Gardenburgers that came before could not: get real meat lovers to convert.
Mark Bittman, the influential former food columnist for The New York Times, wrote: "You won't know the difference between [Beyond Meat] and chicken. I didn't, at least, and this is the kind of thing I do for a living." Even Bill Gates admitted he was fooled. (Gates is now an investor.) Then came the viral stories about how customers were fooled into thinking they were eating real meat, and magazine spreads wondering if artificial meat could save the planet.
Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown has said that innovations in plant-based meat replacements will eventually make the factory farming of animals for food a thing of the past. He wants Beyond Meat to be the Perdue or Tyson ($TSN) of that new world ー and they're not laughing it off. Tyson owns a 5 percent stake in the company and hasn't ruled out an acquisition.