Beyond Meat, the company that makes “meat substitutes,” is in trouble. According to Bloomberg, the company’s stock has lost 77% of its value over the last year. In fact, all plant-based meat substitutes are losing customer share. Sales of refrigerated meat alternatives at retailers are down 10.5% by volume for the 52 weeks that ended Sept. 4, according to Information Resources, Inc.
One reason for this is their price. With food prices going through the roof, a lot fewer customers are willing to pay a premium for fake meat when the real thing isn’t that much more expensive.
And according to Deloitte, there’s a cultural resistance at work.
Deloitte believes the industry is suffering from a perception problem. In July, it surveyed 2,000 consumers and found a decline in the belief that plant-based meat is healthier and more environmentally sustainable than meat from animals. (While the environmental credentials of plant-based products compared to their meatier counterparts are well established, the health claims are not.) Deloitte also suspects that the addressable market may be more limited than previously thought with a growing cultural resistance to its “woke” status — even among those seeking to reduce red meat consumption. Case in point: When Cracker Barrel announced plans to add Impossible Foods’ sausage to its menu over the summer, it faced an onslaught of criticism on social media.
It’s a twist on the “Go woke, get broke” truism. Beyond Meat and other fake meat companies have proudly been marketing their products to vegans and hip wokesters as environmentally friendly and healthier alternatives to red meat. While the benefits of using plants instead of gas-passing, methane-spewing cattle might be a selling point to some, any health benefits from eating meat substitutes are as yet unproven.
Beyond Meat’s woke image also took a hit recently when its Chief Operating Officer, Douglas Ramsey, was suspended after trying to bite a man’s nose following an altercation after a University of Arkansas football game.