Plant-based 'meat' sales are skyrocketing. Beyond Meat is trying to cash in on the momentum by going direct-to-consumer.

  • Beyond Meat is going direct-to-consumer, launching an e-commerce site in a bid to make its products accessible to more people.
  • Beyond Meat is hoping to cash in on increasing demand for plant-based "meat" products, which has skyrocketed amid the pandemic.
  • At the same time, e-commerce is another way to fuel its retail business, which has become a bigger priority for the company during the pandemic with its fast-food partnerships taking a back seat.
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After getting into grocery store aisles and fast-food chain restaurant menus, Beyond Meat is going direct-to-consumer.

The plant-based "meat" brand is launching an e-commerce site in a bid to make its products accessible to more people, and packaging them in new ways like bulk packs, trail packs, and mixed product bundles.

While plans for the site had been in the works for more than 18 months, the company saw other encouraging trends during the pandemic, like more people ordering its products through food delivery services like Doordash, said Stuart Kronauge, Beyond Meat's chief marketing officer.

"More consumers want things to be delivered straight to their house," Kronauge told Business Insider. "We want to make sure that we give the option to buy Beyond Meat products the way they want to."

E-commerce is a way to ensure that Beyond Meat's retail business keeps its momentum

Companies selling plant-based meat alternatives have touted their products as being better for people's health and the environment, and they have been catching on with consumers in recent years. With the e-commerce site, Beyond Meat is hoping to cash in on this demand, which has skyrocketed amid the pandemic.

Sales of plant-based meat substitutes increased 454% in the US year-over-year in the week of March 21, 2020, according to Nielsen. Beyond Meat itself has benefitted from this boom, reporting net revenues of $113.3 million, an increase of 69% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020.

At the same time, e-commerce is another way to fuel its retail business. While the company's retail net revenue grew 192% year-over-year in the second quarter, its footprint already spans across 26,000 outlets nationwide including Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods. So selling to consumers directly was the logical next step, Konauge said.

The site also comes as the company moves past its strategy of relying on fast-food partnerships to change people's perceptions of meat-free products and boost sales, as more people avoid going out to eat. Beyond Meat went from investing in retail and fast-food partnerships 50% each, to increasing its retail investment to 88% in the second quarter to adapt to the changing landscape, the company said.

The company has also been increasing advertising

The e-commerce website also comes on the heels of a big advertising push by the brand. It debuted its first TV spot earlier this month starring Octavia Spencer and NFL player Todd Gurley, as competition in the space heats up.

The 60-second ad featured Spencer and Gurley asking the audience the rhetorical question, "What if we all go beyond?"— intended to serve as a call to action to encourage more people considering meat alternatives to try swapping out red meat for plant-based options. 

Beyond Meat's competitor Impossible Foods isn't sitting idle either. It has ramped up its grocery presence with a recently announced deal with Kroger, partnered with DTC app Cheetah, released a Impossible-themed cookbook and promoted it with celebrities including Kal Penn and Alexis Ohanian, and made itself visible through partnerships like one with Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp to donate more than 100,000 pounds of product to essential workers, underserved communities, and local food banks.

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