2020年，疫情刚爆发的那一年，是整个资本市场对这类食物最乐观的一年。整个赛道里，无论是Beyond Meat、Impossible Foods，还是瑞典品牌Oatly在2020年前后都是市场中的宠儿。
火爆的状况也吸引了更多的竞争对手参与竞争，一些是新的创业公司，一些是传统的肉类加工老牌企业。Beyond Meat背后的投资公司之一——Tyson Foods也在后来推出了自己的植物生产线。一些传统肉类加工巨头JBS以及Cargill也迅速涌入这个赛道。
竞争同样给Oatly带来了压力。燕麦奶市场在Oatly爆红后不断增长，这使得Oatly正在丢失它原本的市场份额。乳制品公司HP Hood旗下的Planet Oat最近已经意外超过瑞典品牌Oatly，成为美国最大市场份额的燕麦奶品牌。
“我们还看到不少非理性的新玩家的加入。他们占用了大量的货架空间，但却质量层次不齐。”Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane在财报会上告诉分析师们。
Kellogg 这家公司持有已经经营了47年肉类替代品的Morningstar Farm品牌。这个品牌目前是美国市场中同类产品的最大卖家，占市场总额27%。市场排名第二的Beyond Meat目前市场占比20%，第三名就是上市计划难产的Impossible Foods，目前占比12%。
尽管野心勃勃加入这个赛道的公司越来越多，但消费者们并没有增加。随着越来越多的人尝试过这种“假肉”, 人们对它的好奇心随之消失了。 大多数非素食主义者最终还是选择了吃回真肉。
整个市场出现转折点是在去年11月。 当时Maple Leaf Foods公司发出警告，植物性替代产品的增长正在放缓。 Maple Leaf Foods在2017年也加入战局，收购了植物性替代产品品Fiield Roast、Chao和Lightlife，希望通过收购迅速进入赛道，分一杯网红食物羹。
”在2021年下半年，植物蛋白品类增长出现了迅速地放缓趋势。我们的表现也正经受着考验。“财报会上，Maple Leaf Foods公司表示将重新审核植物性替代产品这个赛道的战略。
当行业进入低迷状态，进入行业的融资也变得越来越少。 根据Good Food Institute的数据，相对比2020年前后，大量融资涌入这个赛道，2021年，植物蛋白类的投资资本大约为19亿美金，仅为2010年这个赛道融资的三分之一。
根据BTIG分析师Peter Saleh和Ben Parente的一份报告来看，每个客流量高的麦当劳门店每天大约只能销售出20个植物类汉堡，比麦当劳推出时的预测——每天每个店出售40-60个相比，相差太多。
两个星期前，Beyond Meat发布新一季财报。在这份糟糕的财报中，Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown不断提及市场本身的不稳定性。但他同时，也无法回避那些糟糕的销售额和盈利状况。
在2022年第一季度，Beyond Meat公司净亏损超过1亿美金，去年同期这个亏损数字才只有大约2730万。而今年第一季度净收入仅比去年同期增长1.2%，低于预期。 目前，Beyond Meat股价维持在26美金左右，相距其最高点股价下跌大约90%。 Oatly同样如此，不到 一年， 公司市值缩水80%。
Impossible Foods的上市之路要追溯到2021年4月。当时，路透社率先报道这家公司正在洽谈上市计划，目标估值100亿美金，比当时股价飙升的Beyond Meat还要高出大约15亿美金。但这家公司并未提交招股书，反而在去年11月继续融资了大约5亿美金。今年再次放出将在上半年上市的消息。但随着2022年进入盛夏，这家公司的IPO计划似乎已经没有任何新进展。
除了美国本土市场的挫败外，Beyond Meat在全球范围内同样递交了一份不够乐观的数据。美国市场外的海外地区市场，其净营收同比下降大约7%。Beyond Meat表示，汇率波动也影响了海外销售业绩。
虽然Beyond Meat和麦当劳的合作没有达到预期，但目前几乎所有全球一线快餐品牌都正在和这类植物性代替食品公司合作。麦当劳和肯德基选择和Beyond Meat合作推出汉堡和鸡肉产品。汉堡王则选择了Impossible Foods作为合作伙伴，早在几年前就推出了Impossible Whopper“不可能皇堡”。
同时，虽然经济放缓虽然影响了Impossible Foods的上市计划，但是这家公司的业绩仍然成了整个行业的一剂强心针。Impossible Foods在今年3月表示，其2021年第四季度零售收入上升了85%。不过由于这个公司目前没有上市，所以外界无法获得更多它的财报消息。
Text | Lianzi Editor | VickyXiao
Used to be hotter than real meat.
The year 2020, when the epidemic first broke out, was the most optimistic year for this kind of food in the entire capital market. Throughout the track, both Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and the Swedish brand Oatly will be the darlings of the market around 2020.
In the early days of the outbreak in the United States, people had to cook at home because of home isolation and other reasons, so the demand for ingredients, including plant-based alternatives to food, increased rapidly. At this time, even if it is not vegetarian, many people try to eat plant beef, chicken or sausage for the first time. This directly accelerates the development of the whole industry and the sales of various brands.
At that time, a good trend led more investors to bet on this track to invest in such vegetable meat brands. For example, Oatly has become a dairy product that young people can’t miss under the recommendation of a large number of online celebrities.
Growth and valuations rose like a rocket. The culmination of that optimism was the listing of Oatly in May 2021. Although Oatly was not yet profitable, it had a market capitalization of $13.1 billion.
Beyond Meat’s share price has undergone more dramatic changes. It unveiled its IPO at $46 a share in May 2019 and soared in the months that followed, hitting an all-time high of $235 in the past two months alone.
The hot situation has also attracted more competitors to participate in the competition, some are new start-ups, some are traditional meat processing companies. Tyson Foods, one of the investment companies behind Beyond Meat, later launched its own plant production line. Some traditional meat processing giants JBS and Cargill also quickly flocked to the track.
Competition also puts pressure on Oatly. The oatmeal milk market is growing after Oatly’s popularity, which makes Oatly lose its original market share. Planet Oat, owned by dairy company HP Hood, has unexpectedly overtaken Swedish brand Oatly to become the largest oatmeal milk brand in the United States.
“We also see a lot of irrational new players joining. They take up a lot of shelf space, but the quality is uneven. ” Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane told the analysts at the earnings meeting.
Kellogg, the company that owns the Morningstar Farm brand, has been operating meat substitutes for 47 years. The brand is currently the largest seller of its kind in the U. S. market, accounting for 27% of the market. Beyond Meat, which ranks second in the market, currently accounts for 20% of the market, and the third place is Impossible Foods, which is difficult to give birth to the listing plan, with a current share of 12%.
Although more and more companies are ambitious to join the track, consumers have not increased. As more and more people have tried this “fake meat”, people’s curiosity about it has disappeared. Most non-vegetarians eventually choose to eat real meat.
The turning point in the whole market was last November. At the time, Maple Leaf Foods warned that the growth of botanical alternatives was slowing. Maple Leaf Foods joined the fight in 2017 with the acquisition of botanical alternatives such as Fiield Roast, Chao and Lightlife, hoping to quickly enter the track and get a piece of online celebrity food.
In the second half of 2021, the growth of plant protein categories slowed down rapidly. Our performance is also being tested. At the earnings report, Maple Leaf Foods said it would review its strategy for the track of botanical alternatives.
When the industry is in the doldrums, there is less and less financing to enter the industry. According to Good Food Institute, a large amount of financing has poured into the track relative to around 2020, and the investment capital of plant proteins will be about $1.9 billion in 2021, only 1/3 of the financing of the track in 2010.
It is worth noting that the online popularity of this kind of “fake meat, fake milk” comes from network marketing to a large extent. As a result, the marketing cost of this track is relatively huge compared to the traditional food industry-they need to make users pay for this new, subversive food.
McDonald’s also hit the streets.
In Beyond Meat’s story, what can’t be missed is its partnership with McDonald’s. The two companies signed an agreement to launch a botanical substitute hamburger McPlant, but its sales may not be as much as expected. In its last earnings call, McDonald’s did not offer McPlant to continue its expansion as expected, nor did it say it would turn the new hamburger into a permanent menu.
According to a report by BTIG analysts Peter Saleh and Ben Parente, each McDonald’s restaurant with high traffic can only sell about 20 plant burgers a day, a far cry from the 40-60 a day that McDonald’s predicted when it launched.
At the same time, their survey also pointed out that due to the small number of customers ordering the burger, it took longer for some stores to make the burger, even slowing down the entire meal schedule and causing congestion in the areas where Drive-through bought it.
Does the market return to rationality?
As consumers begin to feel that real meat is “really delicious”, the market also returns to rationality. According to industry data released by Nielsen, retail sales of vegetable meat were basically the same as last year in the 52 weeks before April 30, with no growth. Total sales of meat substitutes have fallen 5.8 per cent in the past year, according to IRI, a market research company.
Two weeks ago, Beyond Meat released its new quarterly results. In this poor earnings report, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown keeps mentioning the instability of the market itself. But at the same time, he can’t avoid poor sales and earnings.
In the first quarter of 2022, Beyond Meat posted a net loss of more than $100m, up from about $27.3 million in the same period last year. Net income in the first quarter of this year was only 1.2% higher than the same period last year, lower than expected. Beyond Meat shares are currently around $26, down about 90 per cent from their peak. The same goes for Oatly, which has lost 80 per cent of its market capitalization in less than a year.
Screenshot of the picture from Oatly’s official website
The dilemma faced by Impossible Foods, an unlisted company, may be more difficult to solve than those that are already listed.
Impossible Foods’s listing dates back to April 2021. At the time, Reuters first reported that the company was in talks to go public, with a target valuation of $10 billion, about $1.5 billion higher than Beyond Meat, whose share price soared at the time. But instead of filing a prospectus, the company continued to raise about $500 million in November. The news that it will be listed in the first half of the year is released again this year. But as 2022 enters the height of summer, there seems to be no new progress in the company’s IPO plan.
The company said such a volatile market was so fragile that it might not be a good idea to go public at this time.
It can be said that the whole plant-based alternative food market has changed from hot to cool.
It is difficult to make a profit
In response to the lower-than-expected results, Ethan said in an external statement: the results are not satisfactory because they have adopted a cost-intensive strategy to develop new products for their long-term goals, resulting in a sharp drop in gross profit margins. The new product they are talking about is the botanical substitute beef jerky they developed with Pepsi. This research and development is called “expensive and inefficient” at the earnings conference.
According to the financial report, Beyond Meat’s gross margin accounted for only 0.2% of revenue in the first quarter, a far cry from the 30.2% figure for the same period last year. Currently, the jerky is sold in more than 50,000 outlets.
In addition to the setback in the US home market, Beyond Meat also submitted a less optimistic figure around the world. In overseas markets outside the US, net revenue fell by about 7 per cent year-on-year. Beyond Meat said exchange rate fluctuations also affected overseas sales.
In addition, the volatility of stock prices is related to macroeconomic uncertainty in the United States. Among them, he mentioned inflation and rising interest rates, the epidemic, supply chain disruptions and other issues.
It can be said that the internal and external causes of the attack, so that the company does not even have a chance to catch their breath. It is worth noting that in order to compete with real meat and seize a larger market, companies such as Beyond Meat are still trying to lower their prices, followed by fewer and fewer gross margins and profit opportunities.
The remains of hope
But we may not have to reject the industry so early.
Although the partnership between Beyond Meat and McDonald’s did not live up to expectations, almost all the world’s first-tier fast food brands are working with such plant-based alternative food companies. McDonald’s and KFC chose to partner with Beyond Meat to launch hamburger and chicken products. Burger King, on the other hand, chose Impossible Foods as its partner and launched Impossible Whopper “Imperial Castle of the impossible” several years ago.
At the same time, although the economic slowdown has affected Impossible Foods’s listing plans, the company’s performance has become a shot in the arm for the industry as a whole. Impossible Foods said in March that its retail revenue rose 85 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, since the company is not currently listed, there is no way for outsiders to get more information about its financial results.
It is undeniable that meat substitutes are still a large market, with annual sales reaching US $1.4 billion. During this period of economic downturn, some industry experts expect to see a large number of brands consolidate soon.
In addition to fake meat and milk, there is another branch track worth paying attention to, and that is fake eggs. Sales of plant-based egg substitutes almost doubled in the year to April 30, according to Nielsen. Aucoin also said he believes that while botanical substitutes are trying to suffer a brief downturn, consumer interest is likely to grow. He also firmly believes that when this bear market is over, the real winners will stand out.