Beyond Meat makes another push into restaurants with Pizza Hut pepperoni in the UK

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

As Beyond Meat looks for a bright spot during an otherwise dark period, the plant-based giant is heading across the Atlantic Ocean.

“With more and more British consumers looking to reduce their animal meat consumption, we’re thrilled to offer a delicious, innovative plant-based pizza topping that will delight meat lovers, flexitarians and vegetarians alike,” Hameed Jagani, vice president of global strategic partnerships at Beyond Meat, said in a statement. “Our Beyond Pepperoni helps people continue to Eat What They Love, without compromising on taste, a balanced lifestyle or the environment.” 

Pizza Hut and Beyond Meat said several times that the pepperoni topping would be for a limited time. They did not discuss whether or not they would consider making it permanent, or expanding the partnership, if it proves successful. An estimated 80% of Gen Z UK consumers say they would like to try a plant-based pepperoni, the companies said.

Europe has been strong recently for plant-based offerings. Retail sales of plant-based foods across the region reached 5.8 billion Euros ($6.4 billion) in 2022, 6% higher than 2021 and 21% higher than 2020, according to data from GFI Europe. Beyond Meat has been one of the biggest beneficiaries.

In its most recent quarter, Beyond Meat’s CEO Ethan Brown said international retail sales jumped 39% while international food service sales soared nearly 80%, largely due to high demand for its plant-based burgers in Europe. Restaurants including McDonald’s and Burger King have or are looking to expand their plant-based offerings in the region.

This is not the first time Pizza Hut has partnered with Beyond Meat. A few years ago, the companies worked together on a limited-time trial of both pepperoni and sausage in the U.S.

Other tests of Beyond Meat products in the U.S. with restaurants such as Dunkin’, Del Taco and McDonald’s have failed to last. As a result, Beyond Meat has been left to depend on its sausages and burgers for growth on this side of the Atlantic, but those sales are struggling as consumers cut back on plant-based consumption.

The California company recently reported negative sales growth for the sixth quarter in a row.  

Analysts with TD Cowen pointed to several troubling signs for Beyond Meat, including a loss of market share in plant-based meat, struggles to attract and retain consumers despite efforts such as lower pricing and more promotions, rising debt and declining sales.

Beyond Meat is not the only company in the plant-based space to have problems. The decline has prompted several other major companies to roll back their presence in the category by cutting employees and curtailing innovation projects. JBS USA abruptly shuttered its Planterra plant-based business, and Impossible Foods and Maple Leaf Foods’ Greenleaf Foods have joined Beyond Meat in cutting employees.

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