beyond meat ipo
The Beyond Meat IPO could net the vegan burger company a $1.2 billion valuation. But should investors view fake beef as a cash cow? | Source: Shutterstock

By CCN: IPO season is now in full swing, and yet another unicorn is ready to come to market. Beyond Meat, the vegan food manufacturer that wants to make fake beef mainstream, hopes to raise $183 million at a $1.2 billion valuation.

Since we have their filing in hand, let’s take a look at two critical aspects of this innovative company.

Beyond Burgers Are Everywhere

Beyond Meat largely owes its billion-dollar valuation to one product: the Beyond Burger. You can purchase this meatless burger at Carl’s Jr. or TGI Friday’s at a slight premium to regular beef. They also have announced that Del Taco will be launching a Beyond Meat taco, presumably with the vegan “meat” as the filling.

Here’s how the Beyond Meat IPO filing describes the company’s mission:

“We employ a revolutionary and unique approach to create our products, with a goal of delivering the same satisfying taste, texture, and aroma as the animal-based meats we seek to replicate. In our Manhattan Beach Project Innovation Center, our scientists and engineers continuously improve our products to replicate the sensory experience of animal-based meat.”

Two Big Issues Facing Beyond Meat IPO

Having tested a Beyond Burger in anticipation of the company’s IPO, I can confirm that they’re remarkably tasty, even for someone like myself who is not vegan.

However, there’s one major caveat. Many consumers complain that they do not smell like beef. The holy grail of vegetarian food will be when scientists can not only make plants taste like meat but smell like it too.

Perhaps Beyond Meat will be the company to succeed, but from a product perspective, they are not exactly a unique opportunity until they do.

Beyond Meat’s more pressing concern is negative cash flow. Like other recent and upcoming IPOs, the company has yet to turn a profit.

“We have experienced net losses in each year since our inception. In the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 we incurred net losses of $25.1 million, $30.4 million and $29.9 million, respectively. We anticipate that our operating expenses and capital expenditures will increase substantially in the foreseeable future.”

Will Price Tag Prevent Beyond Meat from Appealing to Mass America?

beyond meat burger ipo
Can Beyond Meat overcome its negative cash flow issues to turn fake beef into a cash cow? | Source: Shutterstock

Disrupting an industry as powerful as global meat was always going to be an expensive job, and it appears that the costs of materials and supply chain are going to be an inhibitor for growth.

What’s the upside here? Well, people could realize you can eat similar food that doesn’t have the negative ethical or environmental impact that slaughtering 39 million cows a year has. Make this product smell like beef when you cook it, and you are really onto something.

Vegan meat is a growth industry. It’s not hard to see why.

However, there is one additional problem. These burgers carry a hefty price tag at the grocery store. At my local Target, a two-burger package runs a full $6. That’s hardly affordable for most consumers.

Regardless of these issues, Beyond Meat is already a sticky brand, and the company can undoubtedly innovate further with a capital injection.

The fact that my local Carl’s Jr. in Los Angeles was sold out of Beyond Burgers when I went to get one yesterday is probably a good sign.

 

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