Sales of plant-based brand Beyond Meat have slumped by almost a third as consumers opt for cheaper animal protein amid the cost of living crisis.
The US company, known for its bleed and imitations of sausages and meatballs, has cut its annual revenue forecast in the latest sign that the vegan food bubble is bursting.
Beyond Meat, which has co-developed McDonald’s McPlant vegan burger, said sales fell 30.5 per cent to £80 million in the quarter to July, missing analysts’ expectations. The maker said it had been hit by “softer demand in the plant-based meat category, high inflation, rising interest rates and ongoing concerns about the likelihood of a recession”.
US trial run of the McPlant burger was cancelled last August but it is still on sale in the UK and Ireland.
The company’s chief executive, Ethan Brown, said the ambiguity around the health benefits of eating plant-based meat had held back sales.
“This change in perception is not without encouragement from interest groups who have succeeded in seeding doubt and fear around the ingredients and process used to create our and other plant-based meats.
“As we look to the future, we remain steadfast in our belief that plant-based meat, and Beyond Meat specifically, will play an important part of the global response to a climate crisis that appears to be rapidly intensifying, while also delivering health benefits to the individual consumer.”
Beyond Meat has been trialing price cuts to attract more customers by offering its core products at prices that are at or below their animal protein equivalent. It said it was unlikely to meet its target of achieving cash flow positive operations within the second half of 2023.
“The guidance cut is disappointing, especially considering the decent start to the year. We are now back to talking about cash burn and the need to raise capital… Something needs to change to prevent this ship from sinking,” said CFRA Research analyst Arun Sundaram.
The news comes as Sweden’s Oatly, the Swiss food company Nestlé and the London-based Innocent Drinks pulled vegan products from sale in the UK this year.