Market Souring on Plant-Based Substitutes

Shares of Beyond Meat and Oatly have shed more than half their value this year. Beyond Meat trades 87% below its all-time high, and Oatly, which recently marked its first anniversary as a public company, trades more than 80% below its debut price.

Industry experts say the declines may mark an inevitable shakeout as investor optimism meets reality.

After years of climbing sales, consumer interest in meat alternatives is waning. Retail sales of plant-based meat were roughly flat in the 52 weeks ended April 30 compared with the year-ago period, according to Nielsen data. Total volume of meat substitutes has fallen 5.8% over the last 52 weeks, market research firm IRI found.

Companies and investors alike bet that consumers would keep eating meat alternatives and drinking milk substitutes, such as Oatly’s oat-based beverage, even as Covid fears eased and lockdowns lifted.