Most Innovative Companies

Beyond Meat

If it looks, cooks, and tastes like a burger, perhaps a plant-based beef alternative should be sold alongside all the other cuts in your grocer’s meat case. Especially if it “bleeds” beet juice. That’s the case that Beyond Meat successfully made in 2016 when it placed its ready-to-cook Beyond Burger in the meat aisles of grocery stores. The starts-pink patty is both more eco-friendly than a traditionally ground round and healthier: It contains about the same amount of protein, roughly twice the iron, nearly half the saturated fat, and no cholesterol. To create a tasty-enough patty, Beyond Meat drew lessons from its other pre-cooked offerings—chicken strips, beef crumbles, and a “beast” burger. It’s all a part of the company’s “last experiment first” mentality. Whereas the company once leveraged existing university research, it now fields its own chef and science teams, housed in a 26,000-square-foot research and development facility. This space will let the company experiment quicker and more wildly as it moves into other meat replacements. “We don’t want them to give it up, we just want to be the first to develop it,” says CEO Ethan Brown of turning traditional meat lovers into Beyond Meat disciples. The company remains hungry “to change the system from within, rather than throw rocks at it.”

2020: Food
2019: Food
headquarters: El Segundo, California