The reason Beyond Meat is about to get a lot more realistic

On November 16, Beyond Meat announced that in 2021, they will release two new varieties of the Beyond Burger. While details are still scarce, Beyond Meat's press release describes one patty as the "juiciest" and the other as the "most nutritious," with the former containing 35 percent less saturated fat than 80/20 beef and the latter containing 55 percent less. Both patties will mimic the flavor and vitamin and mineral profiles of beef. More details will be unveiled at an exclusive preview in Los Angeles from November 18 to the 20th.

The current Beyond Burger boasts 20 grams of protein, 5 grams of saturated fat, 260 calories, and 280 milligrams of sodium per patty. The high levels of sodium and saturated fats lurking in a single patty – among other issues – led to Harvard Medical School's verdict that while these burgers are good for the planet, they will not form the basis of a healthy diet. 

Ethan Brown, CEO and Founder of Beyond Meat, recognizes this, as seen in his musings to Yahoo! News: "If you're starting with a blank canvas and you are saying we can create a burger that is better for people and for the planet, you do need to be responsible and you need to think about how you can reduce the overall levels of saturated fats." These two newer patties may form a step towards a better alternative to meat burgers, though sodium will still prove a sizeable risk to health.

2020 and beyond

These new burgers promise a strong end to what has been for Beyond Meat a good year. As Forbes notes, Beyond now sells in 122,000 locations globally, which makes a 9 percent increase since June, and it now has a place in 5 percent of all American homes, double what it used to be. "The promise to our consumers is really to try to give them products that not only taste great, but also are very good for their bodies, and often good for the planet," Ethan Brown said to Forbes, "That's the no trade-off promise that we're trying to make."

They certainly do not need to trade-off. Nor for that matter, do plant-based meat substitutes in general. During COVID-19's domination, plant-based "meat" products saw an increase in sales of 264 percent between March and May, according to The Verge, while fresh meat products only saw a growth of 45 percent. In terms of actual dollars, the view was less rosy as the plant-based meats saw $25.7 million, which is nothing compared to the $3.8 billion of meat.

Still, a surge is a surge and in their report on it, Food Dive points to meat shortages caused by corona, new scrutiny given to the meat industry in general, the growing presence of plant-based options, and how the threat of disease prompts people to eat more healthily. It is debatable whether meat alternatives will seriously take off now. However, Beyond Meat should enter 2021 with confidence.