Beyond Meat and PepsiCo launch plant-based jerky

Dive Brief:

  • Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced the debut of plant-based jerky, the first snack made under a partnership between the plant-based meat company and the soft drink and snacking giant.
  • The jerky, which is Beyond Meat’s first shelf-stable product, is made from ingredients including peas and mung beans. It contains 10 grams of protein per serving, and is available in three varieties: Original, Hot & Spicy and Teriyaki.
  • Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced their Planet Partnership joint venture in January 2021. At the time, the companies said it would leverage Beyond Meat’s technology in plant-based protein development and PepsiCo’s marketing and commercial capabilities.

Dive Insight:

The first product from the Planet Partnership has not exactly been a secret. A consumer who received a sample of the product from a store posted a video about Beyond Meat Jerky in November, and Bloomberg reported on it in January. 

Secret or not, the product marks the beginning of many things. It’s the first market entrant under the much-hyped partnership between Beyond Meat and PepsiCo. And it’s also a product in an entirely new category for Beyond Meat — something that could help jumpstart the publicly traded company’s sagging sales.

On Beyond Meat’s last earnings call, CEO Ethan Brown broke down the many complex reasons that U.S. retail sales were down 19.5% compared to the previous year. But he said that the first product from the joint venture with PepsiCo was a reason to be optimistic about the future. On the call, Brown called it “a fantastic product,” and he predicted it would “bring excitement, I think, to the retail space.”

This new launch, however, isn’t the only plant-based jerky available on shelves. Nestlé’s Sweet Earth, Conagra’s Gardein and Krave already have plant-based jerky products available. Brands including Country Archer and Eat the Change also have mushroom-based jerkies. 

Since this segment is crowded, Beyond Meat and the Planet Partnership need to execute well on all fronts. It needs to stand out among not only the alternative jerkies, but also among the entire meat-based segment. If consumers both find the jerky tasty and want to purchase it for health or sustainability reasons, it can bring in more sales.

Beyond Meat Jerky also needs to get to the consumer and be a common choice wherever consumers are shopping for meat snacks, and not just sold in specialty grocery stores. While plant-based products tend to be priced at a premium because of increased manufacturing costs right now, the jerky also can’t be too expensive for the average consumer to choose it as a snack.

Under this partnership, this jerky should be able to find success in the space. Despite the recent slowdown in sales, Beyond Meat has a history of executing well. In the company’s most recent earnings call last month, Brown said Beyond Meat is the No. 1 brand in the plant-based meat sector, with the highest brand velocity, high household penetration and repeat rates, and 65% unaided brand awareness among consumers.

PepsiCo is also a master of distribution. The soda and snacking giant has massive retail reach and infrastructure, and can get the product to the places it needs to be. Its Frito-Lay snacking division also owns meat jerky brand Matador, meaning it has all of the inroads necessary to get Beyond Meat Jerky to reach consumers.

Out of all the snacking segments to get into, jerky’s popularity among people in the United States makes it a good place for this partnership to start. According to consumer surveys from YouGov conducted in late 2021, 58% of participants like jerky products. A Nielsen study from 2017 reported on by The Washington Post found meat snack sales in the previous year were $2.8 billion, and had shown a 7% compound growth rate since 2013.

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