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Opinion
Sarah Halzack

Beyond Meat's Wild Ride Goes Beyond McPlant

As consumers worked down their pandemic stockpiles, it hurt sales of Beyond Meat, a sign of volatility that could bedevil other brands.

Shoppers who loaded up on Beyond Meat in the spring may have had less of a need to do so lately. That’s something to watch.

Shoppers who loaded up on Beyond Meat in the spring may have had less of a need to do so lately. That’s something to watch.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Investors took a bite out of Beyond Meat Inc.’s share price on Tuesday after a wild ride the day before amid confusion over its involvement with McDonald’s Corp.’s plans to develop a "McPlant" meatless burger. Those fuzzy plans weren't the only thing weighing on shares, though. On Monday evening, Beyond Meat reported sales growth that was well below analysts’ expectations, a shift it blamed in part on the oddities of Covid-19-era consumer behavior. In particular, executives said America’s freezers were full, making it harder for its lineup of plant-based meat alternatives to get on the shopping list. The stock plunged 15%. 

The early days of the pandemic prompted a highly unusual wave of panic-buying; since then, investors have focused on how the consumer staples industry is recovering from and grappling with stockpiling. Less discussed is the companion behavior, destocking, in which consumers work through their stashes. The situation at Beyond Meat suggests this aftermath of pantry-loading also has the potential to create meaningful volatility and disruption for these companies, adding to their already-long list of challenges.