Beyond Meat and PepsiCo announced today that they are forming the PLANeT Partnership, LLC, a joint venture that will develop snacks and beverages made from plant-based protein. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
The PLANeT Partnership will lean on Beyond Meat’s plant-based protein food expertise and PepsiCo’s massive marketing and commercial sales infrastructure to scale any new product options created.
There are a couple of ways to interpret this news. First, PepsiCo’s involvement is another example of how plant-based protein is going mainstream. According to the Good Food Institute’s 2020 Plant-Based Market Overview, “grocery sales of plant-based foods that directly replace animal products have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion.” And those numbers were released before the pandemic, an ongoing event that’s spurred explosive sales of plant-based foods. Meticulous Research projected sales of plant-based foods would “grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.”
So it makes sense for PepsiCo to partner with a well-known brand in the plant-based food space to get in on some of that sweet plant-based money.
In addition to money, there’s another “green” aspect to the partnership: sustainability. One of the main benefits of plant-based foods is that they take less of a toll on the planet. PepsiCo isn’t exactly known as a steward of the environment (though it does run its Greenhouse Accelerator program), and creating the PLANeT Partnership allows them to get a little eco-halo effect and create a line of snacks that will appeal to conscious consumers.
I’m curious to see what role the direct-to-consumer sales channels play in all this. Both PepisCo and Beyond Meat launched D2C channels last year. Obviously PepsiCo has deep in-roads with traditional retail, and in-store is where the big money is. But as shoppers get comfortable with buying more of their groceries online, the PLANeT Partnership has an opportunity to build a robust D2C channel from the ground up and own more of its customer relationship and data.
But mostly, I’m interested to see what actual food comes out of this partnership. Having been in the Beyond Meat test kitchen, I know firsthand that its culinary team is remarkable and have no doubt they could come up with tasty treats.
Now we just need to see if this PepsiCo + Beyond Meat endeavor will get Coca-Cola and Impossible Foods to announce their own partnership.