Long before plant-based protein was on everyone’s lips — figuratively and literally — Ethan Brown was pioneering efforts to make vegetables taste like meat.
The founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, which went public in early May 2019, has been at it for 11 years. He started the company in 2009 with the mission of addressing issues of human health, climate change, managing natural resources and animal welfare.
In 2012 the company launched its first product, Beyond Chicken, for sale in retail — although it also was briefly offered by fast-casual chain Which Wich Superior Sandwiches in 2014-15. That product had limited success, but later endeavors, including substitutes for hamburger and sausage, did well enough for an IPO.
Now Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage products are available at many chains, including Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Dunkin’ and about half of Tim Hortons Canadian locations. Its meatballs have been tested at 685 Subway locations, and a reformulated Beyond Chicken was briefly tested at KFC. It also is on the menu at Courtyard by Marriott hotels, and smaller chains including PizzaRev, Epic Burger, Oath Pizza, Dog Haus and Bareburger.
Brown and his team have earned a reputation for working with chains to develop customized products with the taste and texture of their other menu items, and that reputation bodes well for Beyond Meat’s future success.
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