Beginning in January, the plant-based Beyond Burger will roll out to its largest restaurant partner yet: TGI Fridays. More than 465 of the casual-dining chain’s outposts will incorporate the patty into the company’s recently revamped Burger Bar, helping Beyond Meat in its quest to convince carnivores that meatless alternatives can taste (and be cooked) like their animal-protein counterparts.
Since its launch in May 2016, the Beyond Burger has become the most successful item on Beyond Meat’s roster, thanks to the company’s efforts to get the vegan burger placed in grocery store meat cases alongside ground beef. In the past year, Beyond Meat has partnered with major grocers and distributors including Safeway, Kroger, and Sysco to get its frozen products into 12,000 stores (the burger is currently in 3,500 outlets).
As Beyond Meat grows its distribution, it’s also continuing to iterate on its products. One of its biggest challenges is getting the middle of the Beyond Burger patty to “brown” like beef does; it tends to remain pink (the color comes from beet juice), which can cause customers to overcook it.
Each new version brings Beyond Meat closer to its goal of indistinguishability. CEO Ethan Brown says, “Our products are so good there’s no reason to consider it a sacrifice.”
Milestones: In September, Beyond Meat partnered with meal-kit delivery service Chef’d to include the Beyond Burger in recipes, bringing the patties to consumers’ doors.
Challenges: While Beyond Meat beefs up its mainstream access, competitor Impossible Foods is getting press—and celeb chef endorsements—by pushing into high-end restaurants.