Beyond Meat Faces Doubts Over McDonald’s Collaboration

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Beyond Meat Faces Doubts Over McDonald’s Collaboration
Photo by Visual Karsa on Unsplash

Beyond Meat’s high-profile collaboration with McDonald’s is not meeting expectations, with underwhelming sales of the plant-based McPlant burger triggering concerns from Wall Street analysts.

On Monday, analysts at investment bank Piper Sandler downgraded the El Segundo-based food tech company to an underweight rating, sending Beyond Meat’s stock down more than 5% before the opening bell. Shares subsequently rallied to close the day up 1%, at $49.14 per share.

The downgrade came on the back of a tepid report on the McPlant’s rollout last week by analysts at another investment bank, BTIG, who described the burger’s sales performance as “underwhelming” after examining sales at 600 McDonald’s locations across the Bay Area and Dallas-Fort Worth region. According to BTIG, McDonald’s franchisees reported that “they don’t see enough evidence to support a national rollout [of the McPlant] in the near future”—with its lower sales volumes consequently “slowing down service times, as the product was being cooked to order.”

The analysts noted that while McDonald’s was expecting to sell 40 to 60 of the plant-based patties each day, its locations in the Bay Area and Dallas Fort-Worth were only selling 20 per day. Sales at rural East Texas franchises were even more anemic, numbering between three and five sandwiches per day. While remaining open to the product’s viability in “higher income, urban markets,” BTIG said “a wide-scale launch [of the McPlant] seems a ways off at this point.”

The McPlant’s disappointing sales follow Beyond Meat’s recent struggle to find its financial footing. Despite the plant-based food industry in the U.S. surpassing $7.4 billion in market value, Beyond Meat’s shares have fallen roughly 69% since June 2021, with the company posting net losses exceeding $182 million last year (including $80 million in the fourth quarter alone). While the McPlant has underwhelmed thus far, plant-based burgers at large continue to grow in viability, with U.S. sales totalling $1.4 billion last year—representing 1.4% of total meat market share.

Besides its partnership with McDonald’s, Beyond Meat has also teamed with fast food conglomerate Yum Brands to offer plant-based alternatives at KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.