Ethan Brown, the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, does not seem fazed by intensifying competition in the plant-based industry, from either food tech startups or industry giants like Tyson Foods Inc.
“Our biggest challenge is around pace. It’s a moment in time, and the obligation that comes with that, to make sure that we deliver. That’s the biggest pressure that I feel,” Brown said at a webinar on Wednesday hosted by Boundless Impact, a market intelligence platform for impact investors. “There are no material obstacles to it. We’ll get the costs down.”
Specifically, Beyond Meat feels pressure to deliver on “the strength of the supply chain” and getting “the education process right,” he said.
Shares of Beyond Meat, which was founded in 2009, began trading in May following an IPO that reignited the plant-based segment and debates about the potential size of the market, sourcing of ingredients and how eager consumers are for plant-based burgers.
Tyson Foods launched its own blend of pea-derived and animal protein-based burgers in June, two months after selling its 6.5% stake in Beyond Meat. And Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms may offer a greater variety of plant-based products and stronger competition. Perdue, one of the biggest chicken producers in the U.S., also threw its hat into the alternative-meat ring last month.
Brown says he isn’t worried about his bigger rivals.
“I totally welcome their entry, I think it’s a good thing,” he told a group of private investors and thought leaders. “We’ll compete, there is plenty of room.”
Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute, compared this moment in history, and the increasing competition, to when plant-based milk became mainstream 20 years ago.
“Tyson Foods — they are looking at what Ethan is doing,” he said. “I see it helping Beyond Meat.”
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