McDonald’s doesn’t sell artificial meat anymore because it’s not tasty enough

Every industry has such a brand, and its existence is a kind of weather vane. It sells well, and the whole industry is not too bad; the whole industry is in recession, and it is still the best-selling batch of them. It is a banner and the first warrior to face market detection, and a scout to monitor market conditions.

For the mobile phone industry, Apple is such a banner; for the new tea beverage industry, HEYTEA is the target that has attracted much attention; and for plant meat, Beyond Meat, which many star investors are optimistic about, is the most shining star company.

Too bad the light is dim now. It is expected that the income will continue to decline, and the layoffs will continue. Even the COO was arrested for biting the nose of the other person because he clashed with others on the road, so he became the former COO.

▲Beyond Meat's former COO attacked others' noses with "road rage" after watching the game

Beyond Meat, unable to exceed market expectations

There's nothing like layoffs as a sign of a company's woes. Layoffs usually mean that the original business is not progressing smoothly, and we can only try our best to reduce costs for the winter, and manpower is also part of the cost of this reduction.

In a regulatory filing on Oct. 14, Beyond Meat will cut 19 percent of its global workforce. The 200 or so employees will be laid off by the end of the year to help the company achieve positive cash flow in 2023.

From a star company to a layoff company, everything is just because the artificial meat that Beyond Meat originally sold was not popular.

Or the popularity craze has passed, and now people are voting with their feet – everyone thinks that these artificial meats are not only expensive but also tasteless, and those high-level concepts are not enough for ordinary consumers to continue to buy, nor for big companies to continue to buy. Cooperation.

No one knows the fact that they are no longer popular than Beyond Meat. When the flowers were blooming, Beyond Meat set a target for 2022 of expected net income of 470-520 million US dollars. When more than half of 2022 is over, the company expects net income in 2022 to be between $425 million and $425 million based on available data.

▲ In a corner of the American supermarket, most of the other meats are sold out, and Beyond Meat still has a lot of surplus

A more intuitive change than this is the change in net income for the third quarter of 2022, which was $82 million in the past third quarter, down about 23% from the same period last year. That means Beyond Meat this year lost a fifth of its audience.

The increasingly saturated market is also an important reason for Beyond Meat's decline in revenue. Established in 2009, Beyond Meat really caught up with the good times. The halo effect of star investors and the maturity of technology are just in time. The brand is more environmentally friendly and delicious. It has won the favor of many consumers. .

But there is never just one family of artificial meat. Behind Beyond Meat, there has been an ambitious pursuit of Impossible Foods – just delayed due to market changes. Tyson Foods, the largest meat-processing company in the U.S., and big companies including JBS, Cargill, and Nestle have also been investing in plant-based protein and lab-grown meat.

At the front are competitors with volatile users and highly similar positioning, and at the back are established giants that have been in business for many years. In the end, Beyond Meat, the “first stock of artificial meat”, still failed to prove itself. After the stock was bullish for a few years, it fell by more than 50% in 2022.

Artificial meat, why is it "unscented" now

As the first stock, Beyond Meat is not wrong. Because it also made a problem that all artificial meat basically made, the taste is not much better than real meat, but the price is more expensive than real meat.

The selling point of artificial meat is no burden, no psychological burden and no physical burden.

▲Beyond Meat's main image on Facebook

From the perspective of production process, the production method of artificial meat is much more environmentally friendly than traditional animal husbandry. The meat industry is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and animal meat products account for 17%-34% of greenhouse gas emissions. Armed with these data, if you eat meat from plants instead of livestock, the meat you eat will also have a much smaller impact on the planet.

So far, buying artificial meat at a high price is like buying indulgences, making you less psychologically burdened.

▲ Animal husbandry has a great impact on the environment. About 36% of the crops produced in the world each year are used for animal husbandry

At the same time, this is also a good choice for dieters to eat meat. Take Beyond Meat's faux steak as an example, its official website shows 250 calories per 4 ounces (about 114 grams), 6 grams of saturated fat, and zero cholesterol. Compared with animal meat, plant meat is also relatively friendly to consumers who are sensitive to antibiotics and growth hormones.

For diners who want to lose weight, artificial meat is a high-priced alternative. Although the price has gone up, you also believe that it will make you healthier.

But these two points are not the core selling point of the food itself. "Food" is a high-frequency consumption, and we can't expect consumers to still have the earth in mind when buying it, and strive to protect the environment. When you really go to a restaurant to buy what you want, the most important thing is whether it tastes good or not, and it is not cheap.

▲ This promotional image will remind people of health, not delicious

When Joseph Zhou, investment partner of Bits x Bites, the first accelerator for food technology in China + venture capital institution, was looking at the project, this was also the topic he paid most attention to:

The first focus of our attention is whether this product tastes good or not, after all, it is still food.

In the concept of consumption upgrading, it is useless for you to talk to consumers about health. We should talk about delicious, cheap and convenient.

▲Bits x Bites

From this perspective, artificial meat has failed again and again.

As a new product, although they are already working hard to reduce the cost of artificial meat, as long as the cost is higher than that of real meat, it is doomed to lag behind in priority. "If it's cheap, you can try it, but why is it more expensive than real meat?" is a common question of many consumers. At the same time, this concept takes precedence, and consumers are more willing to choose products that are early adopters. They will also be the first to be abandoned in the environment of declining income and economic downturn.

Beyond Meat itself said that part of the reason for the drop in revenue was weak demand for faux meat — particularly in the cold storage segment. To this end, many retailers even postponed or cancelled Beyond Meat's promotions because they were not so good.

As artificial meat, whether it looks like meat, whether it tastes good or not, is also a problem that needs to be faced by nature. The answer is yes, but maybe not so like, and not so prominently delicious. Today, when artificial meat can be easily purchased on e-commerce platforms, there have been many blind tests on artificial meat and meat. Most people have tasted the difference, indicating that the difference is obvious. For the time being, artificial meat that cannot be "mixed with the real" will continue. Points deducted.

For those refrigerated artificial meat, it is not the same as real meat, which also means that they need a more appropriate cooking method. If consumers' first attempt is not as expected, they may not repeat purchases for a long time. It's a good idea to let established restaurant chains add faux meat to their menus first.

However, the restaurant most likely does not want to continue.

Fast food chains don't buy it, artificial meat needs a new "recipe"

Is artificial meat delicious? Diners of McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC may be suitable to answer this question, because these three fast-food brands with a wide audience have cooperated with new artificial meat companies at different times to launch artificial meat fried chicken, burgers and other products.

The initial expectations of fast food chains for artificial meat, the hesitation in the middle, and the final abandonment can basically be seen from McDonald's.

In November 2021, Beyond Meat and McDonald's publicly announced that they would trial-sell the plant-based burger "McPlant" in 8 McDonald's stores in the United States. This in itself is a big step for artificial meat, but it has become direct evidence that artificial meat has not been directly accepted by most customers, because plant meat McPlant is not selling well.

Initially, when there were only a few stores selling, the plant-based McPlant sold more than expected. Therefore, in February 2022, McDonald's will also expand the trial sales plan to 600 McDonald's branches across the United States. This move also takes Beyond Meat's momentum to a higher level.

But the problem lies here. When there are not many stores, there are people who are willing to try new things. Expanding to 600 stores is just open to market testing.

The market is not ready yet.

After expanding sales, the sales of plant meat McPlant are not satisfactory. In some branches, they can only sell 3-5 hamburgers a day, which is far lower than McDonald's original sales of 40-60. So after the end of the trial sale on July 28, McDonald's has not made any further plans. McDonald's later told the media that the trial had ended and that it had no intention of keeping it as a long-term menu.

Another glimmer of hope for artificial meat is that plant-based meat McPlant sells well in European countries such as the United Kingdom and Austria, so it has not been removed from the menu for the time being. However, the failure in the domestic market of the United States has not been a small blow to Beyond Meat, and some bad reviews from Burger King and KFC also make it difficult for artificial meat to continue to stay in the restaurant.

Masslive editor Nick O'Malley rated the KFC faux broiler nuggets as protein nuggets.

They look like part of a chicken nugget, less flat and roughly rectangular. But once you eat them, the difference is obvious. When you bite into it, the artificial protein is surprisingly dense and tough, and instead of juicy meat marinated with lots of spice, you get a tough protein chunk.

There are some artificial meats that can pass the blind test, but this is not one of them.

Burger King’s evaluation of artificial meat is slightly better, but many diners are still dissatisfied with the $1 expensive artificial meat burger, saying that they are more willing to eat real meat burgers for this money.

Not only diners of fast-food chains don’t buy it, but diners with Chinese stomachs also don’t like artificial meat that much.

Last year, Haidilao quietly replaced the free beef grains in the hot pot ingredients with "flavor partner" soy products (in fact, it also belongs to artificial meat), and it became a hot search. Many people said that the taste was too different. Haidilao's new "meat" It is not delicious and lacks sincerity. At least in China, it will definitely get the evaluation of "technology and hard work".

▲ The cost of Haidilao’s taste partner is higher than that of beef granules

Not delicious, not like meat, and expensive are the most important reasons for diners not to buy it. The prospectus filed by Beyond Meat before it went public that year said that 93% of Beyond Burger customers also bought animal protein products during the same period. This means that Beyond Meat's main customers are not vegetarians, and most of their products need to not only be meat-like, but preferably cheaper than meat.

Healthy, tasty and cheap, this is what diners want. To this end, artificial meat companies still need to find new recipes and new production methods to reduce costs and make meat cheaper. 3D printing, animal cell cultivation and expansion, plant-guaranteed processing, and microbial fermentation technology are all new "recipes" with potential breakthroughs.

▲ CellX, an animal cell culture and expansion company

But that's a story for the future.

At least for now, artificial meat, which is not cheap and has a certain difference in taste, has not been able to capture the taste buds of diners.

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

#Welcome to pay attention to the official WeChat account of Aifaner: Aifaner (WeChat: ifanr), more exciting content will be brought to you as soon as possible.

Love Faner | Original link · View comments · Sina Weibo