What is the Impact of Beyond Meat?

post by Ben_West · 2019-05-03T23:31:40.123Z · EA · GW · 9 comments

This is a question post.

Now that BM is public, I assume we can relatively easily get answers to information about quantities sold. I would be interested in seeing a Fermi estimate of suffering-days they have averted or something similar. (A simple model is something like: quantity sold times fraction of customers that would have purchased the corresponding animal product times days of suffering per animal product.)


answer by HaukeHillebrandt · 2019-05-04T08:13:19.270Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Interesting question.

Ever so rough fermi: Beyond's revenue was around $100 million - they sell their products at $1 and save an animal for every 100 products sold, then they save 1 million animals a year. Increasing their revenue by 1% through a grant or unpaid internship would save 10k animals.

But if the market is efficient, the counterfactual impact of for-profit clean meat companies is converging towards zero.

More basic clean meat R&D might be more undersupplied by the market.

answer by avacyn · 2019-05-05T00:02:38.901Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

According to their S-1, in 2018 they sold a total of 11.8M pounds of their "fresh" products. A large majority of this was the Beyond Burger.

Given that 93% of retail consumers that purchased the Beyond Burger also purchased animal meat, I think we can assume a pretty high rate of counterfactual replacement of beef - let's say 75%.

That's a total of 8.9M pounds of beef displaced. Assuming a cow yields 490 pounds of beef, that's around 18 thousand cows spared in 2018. This is impressive!

However, I agree with zdgroff in that the majority of the impact of Beyond Meat is the expected future impact when they focus more on chicken, and in legitimizing the plant-based meat industry.

answer by Ben_West · 2020-01-03T18:08:25.625Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This blog post does some calculations and estimates 250,000 animals per year.

They don't share the details, but it sounds like a pretty noisy estimate, e.g.:

We have to make a number of other assumptions as well, for example, we take the word of business analyst, Andrew Charles, who is widely quoted as suggesting Burger King could sell 50 Impossible Whoppers per day, and apply that same figure to all the QSRs in our model


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comment by zdgroff · 2019-05-04T05:36:13.163Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I would think any direct impact would be quite small, as the products are all aimed at substituting for cow products now, and cows are basically a rounding error in the number of farmed animals. It seems like the main impact of Beyond Meat is to drive the plant-based industry further and to establish itself to be able to produce higher-impact replacements down the line.

Replies from: AviN
comment by AviNorowitz (AviN) · 2019-05-04T14:41:16.473Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I believe sausages typically contain pork, so Beyond Sausages might make the numbers look a little better.

Beyond Meat also had a disappointing chicken product, but it looks like they've discontinued sales, and are working on a better chicken product.

Replies from: Ben_West, utilitarian01
comment by Ben_West · 2019-05-04T17:36:26.246Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I didn't realize they had discontinued the chicken products. That's too bad

Replies from: AviN
comment by AviNorowitz (AviN) · 2019-05-05T01:43:38.186Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Their approach seems like the right move to me:

At Beyond Meat, we’re constantly innovating and renovating our products based on consumer feedback. Unfortunately, our Chicken Strips weren’t delivering the same plant-based meat experience as some of our more popular products, like the Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage. But, there’s good news. We have a team of chefs and scientists who are working on getting an even better, tastier version of Beyond Chicken Strips back on retail shelves and restaurant menus as soon as possible. Until then, we hope you enjoy the Beyond Burger, Beyond Sausage, and Beyond Beef Crumbles, and some new products we have in the works for 2019!
comment by utilitarian01 · 2019-05-04T23:20:07.606Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I could still see a sizable impact coming from the consumer skipping a meal of chicken that they otherwise would have ate and substituting it with beyond meat. It doesn't have to be an exact substitute.

Replies from: AviN
comment by AviNorowitz (AviN) · 2019-05-05T01:46:15.041Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think it's bad for Beyond Meat's brand to sell low quality products though as they've done in the past.