- Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced Wednesday they will launch meatless jerky as the first product under their PLANeT Partnership joint venture.
- The two companies announced the joint venture more than a year ago with the goal of creating plant-based snacks and drinks together.
- Beyond's grocery sales have suffered as the company focused its energy on big fast-food launches.
The new product is rolling out to grocery stores this month in three flavors: original, hot and spicy, and teriyaki. Protein from peas and mung beans serves as the base for the jerky.
Beyond and Pepsi announced the joint venture more than a year ago with the goal of creating plant-based snacks and drinks together. The partnership gives Beyond, a relative newcomer to the food world, a chance to leverage Pepsi's production and marketing expertise for new products.
At the same time, Pepsi can deepen its investment in plant-based categories — which are growing increasingly crowded — while working with one of the top creators of meat substitutes. It also helps Pepsi work toward its sustainability and health goals.
Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown teased the product release on the company's earnings call in late February.
"We have a major product, which I actually have in my hands right now and I've been snacking on during the call," Brown told analysts. "That took an enormous amount of time and energy to get ready, and it's a fantastic product."
Beyond's grocery sales have suffered as the company focused its energy on big fast-food launches. In its fourth quarter, the company's U.S. retail sales fell 19.5% to $49.98 million.
Brown said on the conference call that new product launches usually boost grocery sales, so the jerky represents an opportunity to rejuvenate that segment.
His words didn't soothe investors, though, and shares hit an all-time low of $35.74 on March 15, although the stock has since reversed those losses in recent days. In the last 12 months, the stock has shed roughly 63% of its value, dragging its market value down to $3.07 billion.
Wall Street analysts have voiced doubts about Beyond's growth potential. Among their top concerns are competition, market saturation and an overall slowdown in demand for plant-based meat alternatives.
Even when it comes to the new jerky, Beyond faces competition for customers. Several other food companies, including Conagra Brands' Gardein, already make jerky alternatives.