Beyond Meat cuts jobs as demand for alternative protein declines

Plant-based burger maker Beyond Meat is making further layoffs after a series of cuts in August, according to people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear how many workers had been laid off. Beyond Meat asked employees to work from home on Thursday and restricted access to documents, according to some people, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak on the company’s behalf. Management then set up individual calls to inform certain workers that they were losing their jobs. Some cuts have occurred in the research and development department.

The company did not respond to Bloomberg’s inquiries.

Beyond Meat, which had about 1,100 employees at the end of last year, had previously cut about 40 positions in August as part of a broader cost-cutting plan. The former Wall Street darling faces mounting challenges as high inflation pushes consumers toward cheaper animal protein and competition intensifies. Major fast food partnerships failed to gain traction and the company struggled to increase production.

It suffered another blow last month when its chief operating officer, who had been hired from Tyson Foods, was suspended after being arrested. A supply chain manager, who had been hired at the same time, also left.

The plant-based meats category as a whole also cooled. Retail sales of chilled meat alternatives fell nearly 11% in the 12 months to Oct. 2 from the prior period, according to IRI data. Beyond Meat-branded sausage substitutes fell 19% during the period, while the company’s plant-based patties fell 27%. Its fake meatballs saw growth, however, with sales up 19%.

Earlier this month, JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, announced it would cease operations at its US unit Planterra. Private company Impossible Foods has laid off about 6% of its 800 employees, although it said sales were growing.

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