In an almost Bitcoin like frenzy, the hype around the IPO for Californian start-up Beyond Meat raises questions about the gold-rush style interest in the meat-free burger sector. Head of process at Integrated Food Projects, Ed Keenan, has been keenly watching things develop.

Although nobody can argue that there is huge potential within the market, I can’t help but question the financial value of this potential, can Beyond Meat possibly deliver against this $3.8 billion valuation?

The market for meat substitutes is certainly growing and is expected to be $6.4 billion worldwide by 2023 according to Nielsen data. In terms of growth rates, last year, the $30bn processed meat market grew by only 2%, while the $1.4bn meat alternatives market grew by 22%.

One of the most interesting aspects of this is the fact that these meat-free products are on sale and displayed in supermarket meat sections. This fundamental change is huge in terms of psychological perception, effectively normalising the meat-free concept to an otherwise untapped consumer audience.

I myself no longer eat meat burgers at home, a decision made more by my wife Caroline after she had an unpleasant gristle experience. Given how they are packaged, buying for one person results in eating 2 or 4 burgers. so I opted to change with the times and go meat-free.

So, gristle issues aside, why are people turning to meat-free? There are several driving factors:

  • They do not like the taste of meat
  • Moral issues with the killing of animals
  • Environmental impact
  • Health benefits
  • Meat-free is on trend and fashionable
  • Family member driven

We already have an established list of meat-free burger products in the UK from the like of, Quorn, Cauldron, Fry’s and Linda McCartney.

So who are some of the ‘new’ contenders:

  • Beyond Meat – $3.8 billion valuation, not bad when you consider its losses have been in the order of $30 million per year. Investors include Bill Gates, former McDonalds CEO Don Thompson and Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Impossible Foods through Garden Gourmet (Nestle) – just partnered with Burger King, also invested in by Bill Gates
  • Naturli – has been making meat free products since 1988 in Denmark
  • Vivera – a Dutch company that has just launched the world’s first plant based steak
  • Moving Mountains – launched the UK’s first bleeding meat-free burger and is just about to launch a hot-dog product

There is no doubt that this move away from meat will only increase over time, so perhaps this is the perfect time to enter the meat-free market.

However there are certain hurdles that have not been raised which will need to be overcome as part of this progression:

Will the proposed ban on terms like burger and sausage to describe meat-free products have any effect?
Will the soil-depleting mono-crop nature of soya become an issue?
Will the high salt and fat levels in these meat free alternatives hinder growth?

The meatless burger isn’t a new concept, the hype surrounding it is. I believe that in 30 years’ time it will be rare to eat animal meat, perhaps this hype will be the catalyst to bring about the change that gets us there.

If you have any questions about the points discussed in this article, please get in touch via our contact form.


Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.

- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director

I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.

- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer