Beyond Meat CEO spills on future of vegan meat

In January, the company said it had sold 25 million Beyond Burgers worldwide.

El Segundo, Calif.-based Beyond Meat’s CEO, Ethan Brown, believes that the future of vegan meat products remains positive.

In a new interview with Forbes, Brown explained the importance of continued research on vegan meat products and emphatically endorsed government investments in research universities that offer such opportunities.

“[After getting rejected from Whole Foods] we went back to the lab for four years and worked our asses off, [we] brought in scientists from every angle we could think of--biochemists, protein chemists--to understand meat better than anybody else. … We took a model from clean energy, which was get the best scientists, best engineers, fund them well, get them together, give him a clear goal and go for it,” Brown told Forbes. “ And, I knew that was not being done in the food industry."

When asked for his opinion on for-profit meat alternatives and their effect on the world, Brown said that he believed the IPO shows that it proves that one product shift can solve a multitude of social issues.

“[The IPO’s success] shows that you can pursue a social end through business in a way that can create huge value. … You can solve for human health epidemics, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, you can solve for climate, you can solve for natural resource use and conservation with land, water, energy, and you can solve for animal welfare all by just focusing on one thing. And that's a protein at the center of the plate,” Brown said.

In January, the company said it had sold 25 million Beyond Burgers worldwide. It recently filed for an IPO and is reportedly worth more than a half-billion dollars.

Brown says the company found that 93 percent of consumers who shop conventional grocery stores and are buying Beyond Meat products are also putting animal meat in their baskets. “So they’re buying not only plant-based meat, but they’re buying animal meat, and that’s a really important breakthrough for us,” Brown told CNBC’s Make It in January.

With the continuous growth for demand on sustainable products by consumers, meatless patties continue to gain in popularity, as Forbes reports that 70 percent of the world population is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.

Since its debut at Whole Foods Market in May 2016, Beyond Burger patties have made their way into tens of thousands of supermarkets (from The Kroger Co. and Safeway to Whole Foods), restaurants (from TGI Friday to Carl’s Jr.), hotels (The Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong) and even sports stadiums (Yankee Stadium).