Burger King and Beyond Meat say plant-based burgers aren’t eating into meat sales

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Burger King

  • Beyond Meat, which filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq this week, found that 93% of Kroger customers who bought its Beyond Burger also purchased animal protein.
  • Burger King’s plant-based Impossible Whopper hasn’t eaten into sales of Whopper beef burgers.
  • “We’re not seeing guests swap the original Whopper for the Impossible Whopper,” said José Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands. “We’re seeing that it’s attracting new guests.”
  • Watch Restaurant Brands trade live.
  • Visit MarketsInsider.com for more information about Beyond Meat.

Burger King and Beyond Meat have found plant-based, beef-like burgers don’t cannibalize sales of the real thing.

Beyond Meat, which filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq this week, reported that 93% of buyers of its Beyond Burger in Kroger grocery stores in the first half of 2018 also bought animal protein during the same period.

Consumers may have bought Beyond Burgers – which are sold in roughly 12,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets in North America – because their maker doesn’t target vegans and vegetarians.

“We request that the product be sold in the meat case at grocery retailers, where meat-loving consumers are accustomed to shopping for center-of-plate proteins,” Beyond Meat said in its IPO filing.

“We believe merchandising in the meat case in the retail channel has helped drive greater brand awareness with our end consumers.”

Burger King, which is preparing to roll out its plant-based Impossible Whopper nationwide this year after a successful trial in St. Louis, has noted the same pattern.

“We’re not seeing guests swap the original Whopper for the Impossible Whopper,” said José Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands, on the company’s first-quarter earnings call. “We’re seeing that it’s attracting new guests.”

Both companies are rushing to tap into soaring demand for meat alternatives. Retail sales of plant-based meats rose 24% to $670 million in the year to June 2018, according to Nielsen data, outpacing a 2% rise in sales of animal meat over the same period.

Both Beyond Meat and Burger King reported robust financials this week.

Strong demand for Beyond Burger across retail, restaurant, and foodservice channels drove Beyond Meat’s revenue up 170% to $87.9 million in 2018. However, sharp increases in research and development expenses and selling, general, and administrative costs meant the group’s net losses only narrowed by 2% to $29.9 million.

Brisk demand in Brazil, Spain, Russia, India, and China lifted Burger King’s comparable sales by 2.2% in the first quarter of 2019, according to Restaurant Brands’ earnings call. Higher revenue pushed its adjusted EBITDA up 4% to $222 million.