Beyond Meat raises $241 mn amid growing appetite for vegan food

The firm’s popular Beyond Burger, which uses beets to make it ‘bleed’, is sold in thousands of supermarkets and restaurants, including TGI Fridays. (Shutterstock)
Updated 02 May 2019
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Beyond Meat raises $241 mn amid growing appetite for vegan food

  • The California-based firm said it sold 9.625 million shares on the Nasdaq exchange at $25 each on Wednesday
  • The company has tapped into changing consumer appetites as growing numbers of people turn to plant-based meat alternatives

NEW YORK: Vegan burger upstart Beyond Meat, whose backers include Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has raised $241 million from its initial public offering, valuing the firm at about $1.5 billion as it surfs a wave of flexitarianism.
The California-based firm said it sold 9.625 million shares on the Nasdaq exchange at $25 each on Wednesday, at the top of its offer range. Reflecting strong investor demand, it had increased the offer price of its shares to $23-25 from $19-21.
The company has tapped into changing consumer appetites as growing numbers of people turn to plant-based meat alternatives, whether vegans who shun all animal products or flexitarians, who advocate moderate consumption of meat.
“We believe that consumer awareness of the perceived negative health, environmental and animal-welfare impacts of animal-based meat consumption has resulted in a surge in demand for viable plant-based protein alternatives,” it said in its prospectus.
The firm said it believed eating plant-based protein would “help address concerns related to human health, climate change, resource conservation and animal welfare” as it seeks to compete with the $1.4 trillion global meat industry.
Despite the popularity of its signature Beyond Burger and other products, Beyond Meat is still not profitable and recorded a net loss of $30 million in 2018, according to its most recent financial records released Monday.
But it has seen strong growth, with $88 million in sales in 2018, compared with $33 million in 2017 and $16 million in 2016.
“We have a history of losses, and we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability,” the firm cautioned in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The group said it would use the funds raised to “expand our marketing channels, invest in our distribution and manufacturing facilities, hire additional employees and enhance our technology and production capabilities.”
Like fellow “veggie burger” maker Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat uses sophisticated technologies to replicate as closely as possible the taste, color, smell and texture of meat.
It uses peas, beans and soy to make steaks and sausages or replace minced meat in tacos and spaghetti bolognese.
The firm’s popular Beyond Burger, which uses beets to make it ‘bleed’, is sold in thousands of supermarkets and restaurants, including TGI Fridays.
Beyond’s rival Impossible, meanwhile, has linked up with Burger King to offer a vegan version of its signature Whopper. Nestle and Unilever are also aiming to expand their presence in the expanding sector.
Beside Gates and DiCaprio, its early backers include Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, former McDonald’s director Don Thompson, meat giant Tyson Foods and the Humane Society.


Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

Updated 16 July 2019
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Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

  • The protesters waves signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots”
  • The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon workers walked out of a main distribution center in Minnesota on Monday, protesting for improved working conditions during the e-commerce titan’s major “Prime” shopping event.
Amazon workers picketed outside the facility, briefly delaying a few trucks and waving signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots.”
“We know Prime Day is a big day for Amazon, so we hope this strike will help executives understand how serious we are about wanting real change that will uplift the workers in Amazon’s warehouses,” striker Safiyo Mohamed said in a release.
“We create a lot of wealth for Amazon, but they aren’t treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve.”
Organizers did not disclose the number of strikers, who said employees picketed for about an hour in intense heat before cutting the protest short due to the onset of heavy rain.
The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change, according to community organization Awood Center.
US Democratic presidential contenders Kamila Harris and Bernie Sanders were among those who expressed support for the strikers on Twitter.
“I stand in solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses,” Sanders said in a tweet.
“It is not too much to ask that a company owned by the wealthiest person in the world treat its workers with dignity and respect.”
Amazon employees also went on strike at seven locations in Germany, demanding better wages as the US online retail giant launched its two-day global shopping discount extravaganza called Prime Day.
Amazon had said in advance that the strike would not affect deliveries to customers.
Amazon has consistently defended work conditions, contending it is a leader when it comes to paying workers at least $15 hourly and providing benefits.
The company last week announced plans to offer job training to around one-third of its US workforce to help them gain skills to adapt to new technologies.
Amazon has been hustling to offer one-day deliver on a wider array of products as a perk for paying $119 annually to be a member of its “Prime” service, which includes streaming films and television shows.
The work action came on the opening day of a major “Prime” shopping event started in 2015.
Now in 17 countries, the event will span Monday and Tuesday, highlighted by a pre-recorded Taylor Swift video concert and promotions across a range of products and services from the e-commerce leader.
Prime Day sales for Amazon are expected to hit $5 billion this year, up from $3.2 billion in 2018, which at the time represented its biggest ever global shopping event, JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth says in a research note.