Beyond Meat to unveil two new burgers in early 2021, removes mung bean protein, promises 'enhanced meaty flavor'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Beyond Meat will unveil two new burgers in 2021, a regular and lean version of its flagship Beyond Burger (picture: Beyond Meat)
Beyond Meat will unveil two new burgers in 2021, a regular and lean version of its flagship Beyond Burger (picture: Beyond Meat)

Related tags plant-based meat plant-based Beyond meat

Beyond Meat will gradually replace its flagship plant-based Beyond Burger in 2021 with two new variations: a “juicier and meatier” burger featuring 35% less saturated fat than 80/20 beef burgers, and its “most nutritious patty yet,” featuring 55% less saturated fat.

The company has not released ingredients lists or Nutrition Facts panels for the products – which will be unveiled in Los Angeles later this week – but head of communications Shira Zackai said there had been some changes to the recipe:

"We have removed mung bean so the protein in the new Beyond Burgers is sourced from a blend of peas and rice,"​ she told FoodNavigator-USA. "We've also added B vitamins and minerals comparable to the micronutrient profile of beef.   

"In the new Beyond Burger platform we developed enhanced flavors that provide more savory, meaty flavors reminiscent of 80/20 ground beef.  Extensive testing with our consumers validated this flavor direction that we are excited to share."

Both burgers “will have lower total fat and fewer calories than 80/20 beef as well as an enhanced meaty flavor and B vitamins and minerals comparable to the micronutrient profile of beef."

She added: "These new iterations of the Beyond Burger are part of a new Beyond Burger platform and will replace the current version."

Lean vs regular?

CEO Ethan Brown did not explain how the two products would be branded or marketed, but described one to reporters as a ‘regular’ burger and the other as a ‘lean’ burger.

The existing Beyond Burger (v2.0 - launched in early 2019) - which is formulated with pea, rice, and mung bean protein, canola oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter - contains 20g protein, 5g of saturated fat (a bit less than the Impossible Burger, which has 8g sat fat), 2g fiber, 350mg sodium, and 260 calories.  

By comparison, a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder 100% Beef Patty​contains 20g protein, 8g saturated fat, 0g fiber, 190mg sodium, and 240 calories. 

  • Beyond Burger​​​ (4oz – CURRENT VERSION):​​​ 20g protein, 5g sat fat, 2g fiber, 350mg sodium, 260 calories. Key ingredient: Pea protein 
  • Impossible Burger​​​ (4oz):​​​ 19g protein, 8g sat fat, 3g fiber, 370mg sodium, 240 calories. Key ingredient: Soy protein concentrate
  • McDonald’s Quarter Pounder 100% Beef Patty​​​​​​20g protein, 18g fat, 8g sat fat, 0g fiber, 190mg sodium, 240 calories. Key ingredient: Beef
  • (Smithfield) Pure Farmland Burger​ (4oz - latest version):​​​ 16g protein, 7g sat fat, 3g fiber, 430mg sodium, 220 calories. Key ingredient: Soy protein concentrate
  • Nestlé’s Sweet Earth Awesome Burger​​ (4oz - latest version):​​​ 25g protein, 8g sat fat, 2g fiber, 360mg sodium, 280 calories. Key ingredient: Textured pea protein

Beyond Meat Q3 results: 'Lower than we expected'

A weak performance in foodservice and slower than-expected growth at retail combined to deliver a modest 2.7% increase in Q3 revenues to $94.4m at Beyond Meat, a figure “lower than we expected,”​ Brown told analysts November 9. However, he insisted that the plant-based brand's "long-term value proposition"​ remained compelling.

Asked to comment on McDonald’s plans to launch a ‘McPlant’ range - which the QSR giant said could extend to burgers, chicken-substitutes and breakfast sandwiches - Brown said Beyond Meat was “working very closely​" with McDonald's "on a number of matters​,” but said people would “have to continue to be patient”​ when it came to the finer details of the launch.

That said, the company was forced to issue a statement to reporters clarifying that “Beyond Meat and McDonald's co-created the plant-based patty which will be available as part of their McPlant platform​,” after McDonald’s decision not to name* its partners prompted a sharp drop in Beyond Meat’s share price based on investors’ [false] assumption that the fast food chain had given Beyond Meat the cold shoulder.

Growth in household penetration, buyer rates, purchase frequency and repeat rates 

As for Beyond Meat's Q3 results overall, they “reflect a quarter where for the first time since the pandemic began, we experienced the full brunt and unpredictability of COVID-19,"​ explained Brown.

McPlant burger
“Beyond Meat and McDonald's co-created the plant-based patty which will be available as part of their McPlant platform."

Unlike the second quarter, where record retail buying and freezer-loading by consumers offset the deterioration of our foodservice business as COVID-19 stay-at-home and related measures set in, the long tail of retail stockpiling by consumers, coupled with continued challenges across the majority of our foodservice customers, led to Q3 results that were lower than we expected."

At this stage, it’s not possible to provide accurate guidance for the full year, said Brown, after the company posted a net loss of $19.3m compared with a net profit of $4.1m a year ago.  

On the plus side, however, Beyond Meat continues to see strong growth in household penetration, buyer rates, purchase frequency and repeat rates, he said.

Drugstore launch, 2021

Beyond Meat - which launched a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site in late August - has also secured listings in the drug channel for early next year, he said: "As of January 2021, the Beyond Burger will be available at 7,000 CVS pharmacy locations nationwide and Beyond Meatballs will be available at 5,000 CVS pharmacy locations across the country.

As for the foodservice market, he added, the fundamental value proposition offered by Beyond Meat is clear, COVID-19-related disruption notwithstanding.

"It’s important not to interpret this near-term pandemic-induced drop in activity as a weakening in our long-term value proposition in this critically important space, we certainly do not. And despite the potential for another round of sustained stay-at-home orders, we are seeing strong signs that certain large QSRs are planning for menu additions."

*In a blog post, McDonald's described its new McPlant burger as "a delicious plant-based burger crafted for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s."

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