(The Canadian Press)

Beyond Meat’s sales jump as more try plant-based burgers

KFC announced it is testing a Beyond Meat chicken nugget in the U.S.

More people are throwing plant-based burgers on the grill this summer.

Beyond Meat, which makes pea protein-based burgers and sausages, said Tuesday its second quarter revenue jumped 69% to $113 million as more households tried its products in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Sales far outpaced Wall Street’s forecast of $99 million, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

The El Segundo, California-based company reported a net loss of $10 million for the April-June period. Adjusted for one-time items, including coronavirus-related expenses, Beyond Meat lost 2 cents per share. That was in line with analysts’ expectations.

Normally, Beyond Meat sells half its output to restaurants and food service, Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown said. The company had to make a rapid pivot when those sales cratered this spring due to coronavirus-related closures.

Burgers and sausages that were packaged for food service were returned to factories and repackaged for consumers. In mid-June, for example, the company launched a 10-burger value pack for $15.99 at Walmart, Target and other groceries. Normally, two four-ounce patties cost $5.99.

As a result, Beyond Meat’s U.S. retail sales nearly doubled during the quarter, even as food service sales dropped 61%.

“It’s not a small exercise, when it’s physical goods, to make a change like that over a quarter,” Brown said. The company spent $5.9 million repackaging goods during the quarter.

Brown said that by June, 4.9% of U.S. households had tried Beyond Meat products, up from 3.5% in January. More important, half of those who bought Beyond products bought them again, up from 45% in January, Brown said.

International retail sales were up 167%. Brown said Beyond Meat is now sold in 84 countries, up from 51 a year ago. International food-service sales, however, dropped 56.5%.

Beyond Meat continued to invest in international expansion during the quarter. In June, it opened a manufacturing facility in the Netherlands with its Dutch partner, Zandbergen. Brown said Beyond Meat also plans to start production in China by the end of this year.

“We believe the magnitude of the opportunity in Asia merits significant investment,” Brown said.

In April, Beyond Meat debuted in at Starbucks, which sells the company’s imitation beef in lasagna, pasta and a spicy wrap. Brown said Beyond Meat products were also offered for a limited time at Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC restaurants in China through a partnership with their parent company, Yum Brands.

KFC is also testing a Beyond Meat chicken nugget in the U.S.

Beyond Meat declined to give forward-looking financial guidance, citing the pandemic.

It shares rose 6% to close at $142.25 Tuesday. But they fell 7.5% in after-hours trading following the release of the earnings report.

Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

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