Before the Butcher acquisition signals plant-based meat’s growing prominence

The owners of Jensen Meat Company have acquired plant-based meat manufacturer Before the Butcher.
Different types of plant-based sandwiches

Another sign of massive plant-based market growth: the owners of Jensen Meat Company have acquired plant-based meat manufacturer Before the Butcher, whose UNCUT meat has earned a spot in the meat case.

As the demand for plant-based meat soars beyond the current supply, major players in the meat industry are seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the trend. Their infrastructure and capital mean that consumers will soon find more animal-free meat offerings—maybe even right in the butcher’s case.

The plant-based meat startup scales up

Before the Butcher offers 12 kinds of plant-based meats including ground beef, chicken, pulled pork, and turkey burgers. They already have a presence in 1,000 restaurants and 20 school districts with plans to hit a total of 3,000 stores by this summer. The acquisition by the owners of Jensen Meat will facilitate this growth, providing $25 million of credit and 90,000 square feet of manufacturing and cold storage area.

“It effectively turns us from a startup to a major player in the space,” said Before the Butcher founder Danny O’Malley.

This investment reflects a broader movement of food giants toward plant-based meat. Corporations like Nestle and Tyson are developing their own plant-centric meat products, too. It’s a savvy move — the global plant-based meat market is projected to surpass $100 billion by 2035, according to J.P. Morgan.

Adjacency accelerates adoption

Before the Butcher’s expansion also helps increase the visibility of plant-based meat. The placement in supermarkets’ meat section introduces plant-based choices to more people and enables consumers to evaluate and pick from all available meat options in one place.

As discussed at the inaugural Plant-Based World Conference and Expo, we’ve seen this work before. After Silk began putting soy milk in the dairy section, for instance, their sales took off as more households were exposed to—and began purchasing—their products. Other brands were quick to follow suit, and the category grew rapidly from there on out. Now, plant-based milk accounts for 13 percent of retail milk sales.

With a 23 percent boost in plant-based meat purchases in 2018 and more plant-based meat makers like Before the Butcher and Beyond Meat claiming spots in retailers’ meat departments, such success is likely just around the corner for plant-based meat, too.


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Julia John