If McDonald’s Corp. decides to add the P.L.T. to its menu in the U.S., there a good chance Beyond Meat Inc. won’t be the only plant-based burger provider the quick-service giant partners with, UBS said Tuesday.
McDonald’s MCD, +0.14% announced in September that it was testing the P.L.T., or plant, lettuce and tomato, in Ontario, Canada. Analysts question whether the test has been successful. However, there is growing interest in plant-based foods from both diners and large food companies like Tyson Foods Inc. TSN, -1.18%
“For new products, McDonald’s often develops its own product specifications and prefers to multi-source suppliers,” UBS said. “Note the P.L.T, is not ‘branded’ as a Beyond product though its product description does say it is a Beyond Meat patty.”
UBS analysts note that there are few things that McDonald’s purchases from one source, with the exception of Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.55% products. For other items, like beef and potatoes, McDonald’s usually turns to two or more sources.
Moreover, Coca-Cola products are possibly the only branded item that McDonald’s sells.
Analysts wrote that Beyond Meat has the advantage for now, but the fast-food giant could “refine” the P.L.T. before a U.S. launch and turn to other providers.
Beyond Meat’s revenue is split pretty evenly between retail and food service, according to UBS.
“For Beyond Meat to reach $1 billion in food service sales long-term, we estimate it needs to add ~120,000 new outlets at its current $7,000 [average annual sales] per unit,” UBS said.
Analysts spoke with former McDonald’s supply chain executives to help come up with their estimate that the McDonald’s opportunity for Beyond Meat is worth $150 million to $300 million. Beyond Meat was sold in 23,000 food service outlets through the third quarter of this year.
“For restaurant chains that currently sell, or are trialing plant-based meat items, we expect plant-based meat products to represent 5% to 10% of participating restaurants’ menu sales mix by 2025 versus 3% to 8% today via extended menu offerings,” UBS said.
UBS rates Beyond Meat stock as neutral with an $85 price target.
Beyond Meat is reliant on food service for revenue, but the restaurant industry is increasingly reliant on plant-based foods as well.
Cowen analysts call plant-based proteins “the greatest disrupter to the restaurant industry in 2019” and forecast that these items are here to stay, thanks to pricing power and repeat customer interest. Cowen data shows that even among lower-income consumers who make up a core demographic for quick-service restaurants, price is not a sticking point.
“For those who have tried Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat only once, 56% indicated a desire to try again, but have not had the opportunity,” Cowen said. “This bodes well for a larger total addressable market as awareness and availability of plant-based proteins grow, prices contract and new varieties are introduced.”
Beyond Meat stock has tumbled 49.5% over the past three months. McDonald’s shares are down 7% for the period. And the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.11% and Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.10% are up 5.3% and 3.8%, respectively.