Beyond Meat to launch its meatless chicken tenders in grocery stores next month

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Beyond Meat’s meatless chicken tenders

Source: Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat’s meatless chicken tenders are heading to the freezer aisles of grocery stores.

The maker of meat alternatives announced Monday that its latest substitute will be sold in retail stores nationwide in October.

Beyond unveiled the newest version of its plant-based chicken in July. Panda Express used it as part of its meat-free orange chicken in select markets, while more than 1,000 A&W locations in Canada sold out of its Beyond Meat Nuggets. The tenders were the first Beyond chicken substitute available across the U.S. in more than two years after the company discontinued its original chicken frozen strips to focus on the Beyond Burger.

The new iteration of its meatless chicken uses faba beans as its protein source.

“We think it’s important to continue offering the consumer a diversity of proteins,” CEO Ethan Brown said in an interview. “You’ll see, in the coming years, we’ll come out with products that have different proteins altogether.”

Brown said the company is taking a cue from consumers’ existing shopping behavior. Grocery shoppers who eat meat typically buy a range of proteins, adding fish, beef and chicken to their carts.

“We’re trying to build out a plant-based option for consumers across the meat aisle — wherever they’re consuming something that is animal protein, we want to offer a plant-based version of it,” Brown said.

According to the company, the chicken tenders contain half the saturated fat of a traditional chicken tender.

In the latest quarter, grocery sales accounted for roughly three-quarters of Beyond’s U.S. revenue. Both segments of the company’s business have been hit by the pandemic as restaurants shuttered and consumers loaded their pantries with nonperishable groceries.

“Now, with the delta variant out there, it’s more of a mix of things,” Brown said. “It’s kind of a less clear landscape than it was when the pandemic first hit, but our products continue to do really well in retail, and so we expect this one to be really well received.”

Select Walmart, Harris Teeter, Giant Foods and Shoprite locations will stock the chicken tenders at a suggested retail price of $4.99 per package. Beyond anticipates that it will add more retailers and locations later this year. It will be placed in the frozen section for retailers, but not side-by-side with other Beyond items, Brown said.

Walmart is also doubling down on its distribution of Beyond Meat products by adding more locations that sell its meatless sausage patties, meatballs and beef crumbles. It’s the third time this year that Walmart has expanded Beyond’s shelf space. The goal is to make the product widely accessible, continue to communicate its health benefits and to achieve lower prices than animal protein, Brown said.

“If you look at Beyond Meat’s strategy, beginning back in 2009, we have never been about the high-end restaurants,” Brown said. “While we appreciate that and understand it’s important for our culture, we have always been about providing consumers the food that they love, where they are shopping and for the mainstream. And there’s nothing that’s more representative of that than Walmart.”

While supply chain and labor issues have rippled through the food industry, Brown said it has not hit Beyond Meat or its chicken supply at the moment.

“We do see supply chain issues occurring throughout industry in transportation, logistics, things like that, but nothing specific to this product,” he said.

Shares of Beyond have fallen 9% this year, dragging its market value down to $7.15 billion.



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