Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest coffee chain, has stopped selling Beyond Meat’s plant-based products after just seven months in a sign that some consumers aren’t ready to swap all their meat-based sandwiches and burgers for vegetarian alternatives.
“We introduced Beyond Meat as a limited time offer. We are always listening to our guests and testing new products that align to our core menu offerings. We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future,” Tim Hortons told Bloomberg in a statement.
Beyond Meat’s offerings produce 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 99 percent less water, according to the company, and consumers are becoming much more conscious of the massive carbon footprint of modern meat production. But consumers aren’t necessarily ready to give up meat, even occasionally, if companies like Beyond Meat don’t offer products that appeal to a broad base of people.
Beyond Meat, which went public in 2019, saw its stock surge 16 percent back in May of 2019 after the company announced it would be supplying plant-based sausage patties to Tim Hortons. The coffee chain even introduced Beyond Meat burgers that summer, but many of its nearly 4,000 locations started dropping the brand’s sandwiches and faux-meat hamburgers by September.
The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia were the only veggie-minded holdouts until it was announced yesterday that all Time Hortons locations would be removing Beyond Meat products.
Beyond Meat still has partnerships with fast food restaurants like Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, White Castle, and Dunkin’ Donuts in the U.S. and just announced a new partnership with Denny’s on Monday that will cover the company 1,700 locations in North America. Denny’s is even offering a free Beyond Burger to anyone who orders a beverage on Thursday, January 30 from 11am to 10pm, while supplies last.
Plant-based meat alternatives have surged in popularity over the past five years, with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible offering products that taste just like beef for burgers and fake sausages. Lab-grown hamburgers have been the promise of the future for decades and, as recently as 2012, plant-based meat substitutes were still considered “gross” according to Gizmodo’s own assessment. A good tasting plant-based burger grown in the lab cost $330,000 to make back in 2013.
But the tide finally seems to be turning in favor of meat alternatives, even if there are a few speedbumps along the way. One way to be sure that meat alternatives are arriving for good is to just look at the number of enormous multinational agribusiness firms getting on board. Huge traditional meat companies are getting in on the action with Tyson Foods, Kellogg, Conagra, and Nestle offering a wide variety of new products.
Those companies and their massive market research teams know that consumers are clamoring for more plant-based alternatives and a flexatarian lifestyle. But Tim Hortons, for whatever reason, couldn’t deliver the goods.