Beyond Meat signs deal with McDonald’s and Yum! Brands

9 Mar 2021

Plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat announced that it struck a three-year partnership with McDonald’s to be the fast food chain’s preferred supplier for the McPlant patty. Additionally, Beyond Meat will partner with Yum! Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, to create plant-based protein menu items that are exclusive to the foodservice brands.

These long-term partnerships are an expansion of the strategic partnerships that Beyond Meat has forged in recent years as it seeks to expand its domination of the plant-based protein market.

Beyond Meat signs deal with McDonald’s and Yum! Brands

Already, Beyond Meat paired up with McDonald’s in 2019 when the fast food giant originally launched a test for the McPlant in Canada where it featured a Beyond Meat patty. Similarly, the company’s plant-based chicken was featured the same year at Atlanta-based KFC locations as Beyond Fried Chicken, a test product that sold out in a matter of hours. Since the initial rollout, KFC has expanded Beyond Fried Chicken to other U.S. cities. Then last year, Pizza Hut U.S. launched the Beyond Italian Sausage Pizza and the Great Beyond Pizza nationwide, becoming the first national pizza chain to introduce a plant-based meat pizza coast-to-coast.

These two new partnerships will leave Beyond Meat busy as both fast food titans intend for the California-based alternative protein company to develop entire unique platforms for plant-based menu items. While the release did not specify what direction the R&D for Yum! Brands menu items will take, in its collaboration with McDonald’s, Beyond Meat will focus its energies on developing plant-based offerings for the restaurant’s chicken, pork and egg-based staples to expand McDonald’s broader McPlant platform.

Forging long-term partnerships is an essential milestone for the plant-based protein maker as grocery sales have dipped since their initial boom during the pandemic – IRI data cited a 454% growth in plant-based meat for the week of March 21 last year as compared to the year prior. In its 2020 earnings release, Beyond Meat reported an adjusted net loss of $21.4 million despite revenue ticking upward by 3.5% to $101.9 million from $98.5 million last year. The company pointed to the cooling off of sales in the grocery category as an explanation for the disappointing earnings.

Nevertheless, the company’s stock largely recovered following the announcement of these new partnerships that builds on its previously cemented joint venture with PepsiCo to form The PLANeT Partnership. The duo intends to pair Pepsi’s far-reaching market and commercial experience with Beyond Meat’s R&D capabilities to create snacks and beverages with plant-based protein capabilities.

Even with these contracts locked into place, Beyond Meat will need to continue to be wary of its rival Impossible Foods, which recently announced another round of double-digit price cuts. In less than a year, the competing plant-based protein maker has reduced its prices dramatically, and its patties are now $5.49 while its 12-ounce packages of protein are $6.99 at major retailers nationwide.

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