Beyond Meat announced that Thompson will join the company’s board of directors, presumably for his expertise in marketing burgers to 69 million people in more than 100 customers every day.
Beyond Meat wants to shake up the global meat industry. The four-year-old startup makes entirely plant-based burgers and chicken strips, mainly from soy and pea protein. Each serving contains the same amount of protein as normal meat, without cholesterol or saturated or trans fats.
The company wants to cut global meat production, which accounts for 18% of global greenhouse emissions and exhausts farmland and water. Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement that he hopes that hiring the McDonald’s vet will encourage customers to adopt their plant-based burgers.
Thomson sounds stoked.
“More and more, every day, the traditional favourites of beef, fowl, and fish are being augmented with additional plant protein sources to satisfy this new taste demand,” Thompson said. “Ethan and the team at Beyond Meat have proven that you can actually have great taste and high quality with plant based proteins — even in a burger!”
Thompson worked with McDonald’s for 25 years and served as CEO for the last three of those years. Even though he retired as CEO in March, he still consults the company and earns $US3.3 million per year.
Founded in 2009, Beyond Meat has attracted funding from a long list of investors, including Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the Humane Society, and Bill Gates.
Gates also backs Impossible Foods, a company that wants to recreate the taste of red meat and developed burgers with “plant blood.” The start-ups share a common goal: offer sustainable meat alternatives for a healthier planet. Beyond Meat says they hope to reduce global meat consumption by 25% within the next five years.
It may be a tough sell, according to a 2014 survey by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Only an estimated 5 % of the world’s population and a smaller percentage of the US, 4%, are vegetarian.
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