Plant-based eating goes mainstream as Beyond Meat targets Canadian grocery shelves

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Pete Evans · CBC News · Posted: Apr 27, 2019 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: April 27

A California company that was overwhelmed by demand for its meatless fast food burger is hoping to capitalize on the rising trend of vegetarianism and sell directly to Canadian grocery stores starting now.

Founded a decade ago in California, Beyond Meat first captured the attention of Canadians when the company signed a deal with burger chain A&W last year for a plant-based burger — one they claim looks and tastes like traditional patties, but is made entirely from vegetable-based proteins.

A&W was flooded by so much demand for the product that most locations sold out almost instantly, and has had trouble maintaining supply ever since. But Beyond Meat is pushing ahead with more expansion, confident those supply issues have been handled. 

After focusing on getting its products into some 27,000 restaurants around the world, Beyond Meat has now turned its attention to selling directly to consumers. It has struck deals with major food chains like Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro and Longo’s that will see the company’s plant-based burger patties sold in thousands of Canadian grocery stores.

“On the heels of our successful launch with A&W … retail is the natural next step for our brand,” CEO Ethan Brown said in a release announcing the move.

Robert Carter, a Toronto-based consumer analyst with NPD group, said Beyond Meat tapped into what was a slowly growing movement toward plant-based eating, and became a leader almost overnight.W

“I had seen the underpinnings, but even I didn’t expect it to be as popular as it is,” Carter said in an interview.Carter said burgers comprise a $20-billion piece of Canada’s fast food industry, a figure that doesn’t include the ones that Canadians buy at the grocery store to take home and cook themselves. “We’re talking about a tens of billions of dollars market opportunity in North America,” he said. “To take a share of that from meat is massive.”

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