Hospitality

Fast Food Diners are Keen on Meatless Meat

Image Credit: Photo by Bobby Rodriguezz on Unsplash

It’s looking like a bloody good time to get into the meatless burger market.

On May 2, Beyond Meat went public on the NASDAQ, and the first trades went off at $46, 84% above its IPO price. By the end of the day, it was up 163%. Jumps like that haven’t been seen since the dot-com craze at the turn of the century. At the time of this writing, the stock is sitting around $66 a share. Not to be outdone, Beyond Meat’s main competitor, Impossible Foods, announced Monday morning it raised an additional $300 million (up from an already impressive $450 million) ahead of a possible IPO of its own, according to a Reuters report.

Right now, the companies are battling for dominance in the burgeoning meat substitute category, which is expected to blossom into a $5.8 billion business by 2022, according to Grand View Research. Beyond Meat can be found in Whole Foods and Safeway stores, and Impossible Foods made a splash a few weeks back by announcing a partnership with Burger King that will see the “Impossible Whopper” roll out nationwide by the end of 2019. Impossible Burgers can already be found at Disney theme parks, White Castle, and Red Robin.

It’s clear big money is rolling into these businesses, and a recent CivicScience study shows Americans – while not totally on board – seem to be ready for the meatless burger concept.

While 5% of Americans age 13 and over have tried and liked a Beyond Meat burger and 4% have tried and liked an Impossible Burger, only a quarter of all Americans are showing no interest in either. Perhaps the more important overall numbers, however, are the people who have yet to even hear about either company: That’s roughly three out of every five Americans. Clearly, plenty of room for growth there. 

Another point – and perhaps the most important one – in no-meat meat’s favor: Of those who have tried Beyond Meat’s burger, only one in six said they didn’t like it, and only one in five didn’t like Impossible Burger’s offering.

In what seems to be the best demographic news in the faux meat field, Generation Z is the clear leader in terms of trying and liking both burgers (11% for Beyond Meat, 9% for Impossible) and leads nearly the entire field when it comes to their likelihood of trying one or the other in the future.

Noticeably, the 55+ crowd is nearly absent when it comes to trying these products.

Men are slightly more likely to have tried either product, as well as more likely to have heard of Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers in the first place.

Additionally, neither company has made any inroads into rural America as of yet, and Impossible Burgers shows a definite city lean when it comes to who has tried and liked their offerings.

One huge area for potential growth for both companies – and with the aforementioned Impossible Burger partnerships with White Castle and Burger King – is the fast food industry.

At this early stage, both Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger seem to be headed in the right direction. Somewhat surprisingly, people who eat at fast food restaurants are much more likely to say they will eventually try a meat substitute burger than people who never frequent a fast food restaurant.

Overall, while still in nascent stages, both companies seem to be making huge inroads in the hearts and minds of the American public. Additionally, as outlined above, both companies sport similar numbers across this CivicScience study.

The big takeaway, however, may be in the “tried and didn’t like” categories across the entire study. They are smaller – and in most cases, much smaller – than the “tried and like” category. Much like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercials, this seems to be a case of “try it and like it.” That’s a very enviable position to be in for a brand new category of food.

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