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How Beyond Meat is like Tesla

Competition is nothing new to Beyond Meat’s (BYND) CEO Ethan Brown.

“We’ve been competing for a very long time with these big established players,” Brown tells Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.

He drew a parallel between his California plant-based protein company and another disruptor, the electric-carmaker Tesla (TSLA).

“Why has Tesla been able to do what Tesla has done to General Motors, Ford, etc.?” Brown asked.

“There are examples throughout history where companies have been able to move quickly enough to be able to provide a new product, from somebody new, to the consumer and upend an industry. We’ve looked at those, and we’re studying what’s worked and what hasn’t.”

Noah Hamman, CEO of AdvisorShares, also sees similarities between the two companies.

“[Beyond Meat] is a little like Tesla – great company, doing great things with huge growth ahead of it,” Hamman told Yahoo Finance. “It’s unclear if the stock price matches the sort of realistic financial expectations, but good numbers and a good company. Hard to tell what will happen with the stock from here though.”

Shares of Beyond Meat are up more than 300% since going public in May. On Tuesday, the stock sank nearly 25% as early investors finally had the chance to sell some of their shares following the expiration of the stock’s lockup period.

It came on the same day Beyond Meat announced it had just turned a profit for the first time in the company’s 11-year history, but investors worry that growing competition from food giants Tyson (TSN), Nestle (NSRGY), and Hormel (HRL) will stymie growth in the meatless-meat industry.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR BEYOND MEAT- KFC and Beyond Meat launched plant-based chicken at a local Atlanta KFC, featuring an oversized 12 ft x 9ft bucket, accented by KFC's temporarily green exterior, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (John Amis/AP Images for Beyond Meat)

So far, that hasn’t proven to be the case. Beyond Meat’s meatless burgers, meatballs, sausages and chicken are popping up on the menus of quick-serve restaurants all over the place, including McDonald’s (MCD)Dunkin (DNKN)KFC (YUM), and Subway.

Beyond Meat’s closest competitor, privately-held Impossible Foods, is also making strides in this David and Goliath scenario within the protein-industry. Its soy-based protein burgers are now at fast-food chains including Burger King, Red Robin (RRGB), White Castle, and Fatburger.

“The QSR relations we have, they were being pursued by other companies of course,” said Brown. “We were able to win because we are myopically focused, almost maniacally focused on this one goal, of building meat protein directly from plants, and we have the ability to move more quickly and take greater risk than any large incumbent player.”

Brown said being nimble is a “big competitive advantage,” but that’s only part of the plan. In order to become the $40 billion global company he envisions, Brown says Beyond Meat must deliver on taste, nutrition value, and price.

“Let’s get the cost out of the system. We should be less expensive, but we’re not at scale. As we get to scale, you’ll see us start to drop the pricing and get below that of animal protein. That’s a really exciting opportunity,” said Brown.

Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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