Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, scrappy start-ups that share a penchant for superlatives and a commitment to protecting the environment, have dominated the relatively new market for vegetarian food that looks and tastes like meat.
But with plant-based burgers, sausages and chicken increasingly popular and available in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores across the United States, a new group of companies has started making meatless meat: the food conglomerates and meat producers that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods originally set out to disrupt.
In recent months, major food companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, Hormel and Nestlé have rolled out their own meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.
Once largely the domain of vegans and vegetarians, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets, as consumers look to reduce their meat intake amid concerns about its health effects and contribution to climate change.
Over the last five months, Beyond Meat’s stock price has soared and Impossible Foods’ deal to provide plant-based Whoppers at Burger King has prompted a wave of fast-food chains to test similar products. Analysts project that the market for plant-based protein and lab-created meat alternatives could be worth as much as $85 billion by 2030.