The fall of Beyond Meat
In 2013, American households shopping at Whole Foods found a newbie in the overpacked plant-based shelves. Beyond Meat. An alternative meat which tastes like perfectly grilled meat without an ounce of animal protein, conceived in 2009 by Ethan Brown. Along with researchers, the young American executive then created a chicken “faux” fillet made from pea isolate or soy protein. In 2014, the company kept on rising, Beyond Meat’s “Beasts” plant-based patties filling the burgers sold at the Mets baseball games in New York. A home run. Ten years later, Beyond Meat is collapsing in the stock market. The company lost 30% of their sales revenue and their share price is plummeting. French newspaper L’Opinion recalls the fall in August : “An overwhelming disappointment for Beyond Meat, after being listed on the stock market in May 2019 for 60 dollars, the share value shot up, culminating at 200 dollars a few months later. It now goes for 13 dollars after 2 years of constant decline.” The reasons for this crash? The price, difficulties in supply, non-stopping inflation, and Americans simply went back to good old meat. Beyond Meat probably got lost among all the new plant-based brands who were probably faster, stronger, maybe better.
The rise of La Vie, HappyVore, UMIAMI…
France’s plant-based products market is blooming in the meanwhile. French consumers are not the biggest alternative products buyers, their meat consumption rate even went up in 2022, but the companies who offer food alternatives have never been in better shape. In October 2023, the foodtech UMIAMI presented, in a press release, their new 32 millions euros fundraising project. The company explains : “After the success of their pilot project in Ile-de-France, UMIAMI aims to become the international leader of its sector with the help of their new factory in Duppigheim (Alsace).” The startup wishes to up their production line capacity from 7500 tons to 20000 tons per year at mid-term. Sustained by the State through the “France 2030” Plan and by first class investors, the company strongly commits to local re-industrialisation by creating new jobs. Simultaneously, they invest in innovation with their research and development centre, “anticipating the launch of new products on the market”.
At the same time, LaVie is presenting its new burger made for delivery, especially for their first digital restaurant. These companies, flexible, manage to juggle with various parts of the food sector to plan the establishment of the plant-based alternative in France. LaVie, company focused on plant-based charcuterie, and Taster, an online food delivery startup, have the same daring ambition: “Vegan burgers made for delivery services in order to convert the internet to flexitarianism.” Their target customer? Gen Z, who orders out a lot, and mostly online. LaVie has managed to get a spot in 4600 stores and in more than 3000 restaurants in Europe. A financial bloom explained by various factors. French, who are among the least vegetarian European, show interest in the farming animals’ welfare, wish to consume less meat to vary their diet.
All in all, the plant-based industry is doing well in France. On October 11th, Boursorama recalled that the sector studies database Xerfi Precepta estimates the total value of the market for 2023 to 470 million euros.
HB / ©Alex Gallosi