Though the popularity of plant-based food continues to rise in 2020, one of the top stocks in the industry has struggled over the past few months. Beyond Meat, which swung to a loss last quarter, is not only facing down COVID-related disruption to business, but surging competition from multinational CPG players like Unilever, Cargill, and Kellogg. Meanwhile, Impossible Foods is throwing their hat into a plant-based milk market that is already putting traditional dairy under siege.

Related Stocks: Beyond Meat, Inc. (BYND), The Unilever Group (UL), McDonald’s Corporation (MCD), Kellogg Company (K)

Plant-based meat and dairy substitutes continue to explode in popularity as the last decade and a half has seen millions adopt plant-based diets.

A new study, published by Ipsos Retail Performance earlier this year, revealed that the number of Americans following plant-based diets is up by nearly 9.6 million over the last 15 years. That puts the total number of vegetarians, vegans, etc., just shy of 10 million.

The global market for meat substitutes is forecast to hit $23.81 billion by 2023, a 28% rise over last year’s sales, according to Euromonitor. The milk-substitutes market will climb 23% over this period, the research firm estimates.

This success has been most pertinently embodied by the success of Beyond Meat, the faux meat manufacturer whose stock has surged 420% to $129.90 since the company went public at $25.00 in May 2019. Beyond Meat has expanded its portfolio of offerings from vegan burger patties to sausage, ground beef, and other proteins.

McDonald’s made waves when it recently announced its new McPlant. The company’s statement, which said that the new plant-based patty and chicken substitute formulation was made in-house, caused Beyond Meat shares to slide. While there was some confusion about how involved Beyond Meat was, after running some trials with McDonalds in Canada last year, it turns out that the fast food giant is going its own way.

Bloomberg reports that McDonald’s is planning to start testing a full line of plant pucks next year, including burgers, “chicken” nuggets and breakfast patties, but the company’s supply chain may have had more say in the decision than its chefs. McDonald’s can’t afford the kind of growth pains Beyond Meat and other plant-based pure plays have dealt with as they scaled up. What’s more, it doesn’t want to get in a bidding war with a company like Dunkin’, one of Beyond Meat’s premier partners, for the next truck full of plant-based sausages.

Despite this loss, TechCrunch writes that Beyond still added to its list of partners by announcing a deal with the Jamaican patty company Golden Krust, and expanded its partnership with KFC both in the US and in China, where the chain sells a Beyond Burger.

Compounding their partnerships, Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat said this week that the Beyond Burger will be expanding its retail reach by launching…

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