Beyond Meat, a plant-based “meat” startup backed by Bill Gates, is taking its hallmark veggie burger to the mainstream
with an expansion into Safeway.
Bloomberg reports that the Beyond Burger, as the product is known, will arrive in the meat cases — rather than the frozen food aisle, where meat-lovers might glance over it — at more than 280 supermarket locations in California, Hawaii and Nevada.
The burger, made from pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil, had previously been available at Whole Foods and select restaurants on the West Coast. The move into a conventional grocery chain could help the company capture a wider audience.
“It’s a really important step in terms of reframing how we think about meat,” Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat told Bloomberg. “We assume that an animal has to be used for meat, and that’s just false.”
Most veggie burgers found in the frozen food aisle taste more like chopped black beans and corn than real beef. Founded in 2009, Beyond Meat promises products that taste and look more like the real thing. The burgers contain pulverized beets, which gives them their reddish colour and juices so that they “bleed” and sizzle in the pan.
The company has attracted investments from Gates, as well as food giants including General Mills and Tyson Foods. In 2016, West Coast fast-casual chain Veggie Grill introduced the Beyond Burger to the menu. It’s also available in dining halls at Yale University.
Beyond Meat faces competition in Impossible Foods, another VC-backed meatless burger startup. In March, the company opened its first large-scale production facility. It will make four million burgers a month once the site is up and running later in 2017.
The Beyond Burger will sell in a pack of two four-ounce patties for $US5.99 — almost twice the price of beef per ounce. The company expects the price to drop as it scales.
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