Beyond Meat said it would sell the plant-based patties through Alibaba Group Holdings BABA 'Freshhippo' food markets, starting with around 50 Shanghai-based outlets this weekend. By September, the company said, it hopes to have its products on the shelves of around 100 stores as it expands into retail markets outside of the United States.
“We know that retail will be a critical part of our success in China, and we’re pleased to mark this early milestone within a few months of our market entry,” said Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown. “Following recent food-service announcements with Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in China, as well as our distribution partnership with Sinodis, expanding into retail is the natural next step in building our market presence.”
Beyond Meat shares were marked 9.2% higher in early trading Wednesday to change hands at $146.59 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 94% and value the El Segundo, California-based company at around $9.15 billion.
Beyond Meat stock has been under pressure of late, however, following the phasing-out of its plant-based burgers by McDonald's MCD in Canada and a serious challenge from its domestic rival, Impossible Foods.
Earlier this week, in fact, analysts at Barclays slashed their rating on the stock by two notches, to 'underweight', citing "near-to medium-term headwinds, mostly related to foodservice channels (which comprise nearly half of the group's revenues) being closed due to lockdowns”.
Retail channels, however, has shown incredible strength amid the coronavirus pandemic, with company data showing a 200% increase from last year over the the 12 weeks ending in late June. Data from Numerator, meanwhile, has indicated that Beyond Meat's household penetration has more than doubled this year to around 3.7%.