Beyond Meat announced today that it will open a new manufacturing facility in Europe. The company is expanding its partnership with Zandbergen World’s Finest Meat, who already distributed Beyond products across Europe, to begin making plant-based meats in the Netherlands by Q1 of next year. This will be the El Segundo, Calif.-based company’s first manufacturing facility outside of the U.S.
Beyond’s impending production facility shows how the company is flexing its plant-based muscle — armed with post-IPO capital — to really get serious about global expansion. Beyond is already in 40 countries around the world, and just moved into grocery stores in the Netherlands and Belgium last month. It’ll now be able to create a wave of new foodservice partnerships and deepen its foothold in grocery stores throughout Europe.
(Interesting side note: Zandbergen is also Tyson’s exclusive European distribution partner — maybe the poultry giant helped set up the Beyond partnership before the two parted ways?)
There’s certainly a demand for what Beyond is selling. According to Allied Market Research, Europe accounted for nearly 40 percent of global plant-based meat sales. Sales are expected to grow at a yearly rate of 7 percent through 2025.
Europe is one playing field that Beyond has a distinct advantage, at least over plant-based meat competitor Impossible Foods. Beyond’s products are GMO-free, whereas Impossible uses genetic engineering to manufacture heme, the magic ingredient which makes their burgers “bleed” and taste extra beefy. Europe is especially strict on regulating genetically modified foods, so if Impossible wants to sell in Europe, they’ll have to jump through a lot more hoops.
That doesn’t mean that Beyond doesn’t have any competition in the region. In the U.K. Moving Mountains makes ruby-hued plant-based burgers that taste pretty similar to Beyond, and Nestlé’s Incredible burger is already on menus at McDonald’s in Germany. European supermarkets like Aldi, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have also been developing their own line of plant-based meats.
Beyond could also have to tackle a headache of rebrand if the E.U. decides to go forward with its proposed ban on using ‘meat’ labels to describe vegetarian products. The European Parliament is meant to vote on the measure after the just-completed May elections, so stay tuned: Beyond might have to continue its world domination not with plant-based meat ‘burgers,’ but with plant-based ‘discs.’