COVID-19

How are plant-based meat companies faring during the pandemic?

Kristin Schwab Jul 27, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Packages of meat alternatives for sale in a New York market. Most customers are not vegetarians but people who eat less meat for health or environmental reasons. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

How are plant-based meat companies faring during the pandemic?

Kristin Schwab Jul 27, 2020
Heard on:
Packages of meat alternatives for sale in a New York market. Most customers are not vegetarians but people who eat less meat for health or environmental reasons. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Beyond Meat will report earnings Monday after the bell, and it’s unclear how things will shake out for the meat-substitute company amid the ups and downs grocery stores and restaurants are dealing with because of COVID-19.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the biggest competition facing meatless meat was, well, meat.

“When consumers started to stock up, they actually gravitated towards more familiar items,” said Dasha Shor, a global food analyst at Mintel.

That’s because the biggest market for companies like Beyond Meat isn’t vegetarians, but meat eaters who Shor calls “flexitarians” — people who eat less meat for health or environmental reasons.

But home cooks got tired of eating the same thing. Then, in April, there was the meat shortage, when some grocers limited purchases and prices went up.

“This was really an opportunity for plant-based meat companies like Beyond Meat to really go out and grab some new customers,” said Arun Sundaram, an analyst at CFRA Research.

Still, things aren’t rosy at restaurants, which make up half of Beyond Meat’s sales. And Sundaram isn’t sure grocery sales will keep growing if the recession continues.

“Obviously, because people are going to be trying out less things if their wallets are pinched,” he said.

Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef product, for instance, can run around $9 a pound.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More

Collapse

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.