I get a weekly newsletter from Food Tech Connect that provides a very good summary of the food industry: news, updates, reports, etc. This week’s newsletter had a link to a story from Bloomberg.com about how the wildly popular vegan burger company Beyond Meat Inc is about to file for their Initial Public Offering (IPO) at a current valuation of $100 million!
That valuation is not surprising when you consider that their products are sold at Kroger, Whole Foods and A&W Canada to name just a few. (Brace yourself for some math here) However, it is surprising when you keep on reading and note: “the company had a net loss of $30.4 million on net revenue of $32.6 million in 2017. That compares with a net loss of $25.1 million on net revenue of $16.2 million a year earlier.” In other words, it cost the company approximately $60 million dollars to generate $30 million in revenue last year and $41 million to generate $16 million the year before. Put another way, to generate $16 million more of revenue, it cost an additional $20 million dollars!
The company is growing, but at what cost? For all of the current investors (big names like Bill Gates, and Kleiner Perkins), there is a significant and dramatic hope that at least financially, this company will eventually turn a profit. I ask myself this question all the time: what is the acceptable cost to grow the company? What value can I place on the hope that everything I do, everything the community does around me to support me, will eventually pay off?
If you read into the fact that big name investors are backing Beyond Meat’s growth, it’s easy to assume that their resources simply will not allow the company to fail. From a depressing point of view, it also means that you NEED their level of resources to get a company to scale properly. I choose to look at it from the opposite perspective: “look who’s interested in vegan companies now…”There is very high level interest in companies that are taking alternative approaches to the food industry. That is motivating.
The fact is, more and more food companies, foodpreneurs, and alternatives to the norm are taking center stage. There is a widespread and growing acceptance of foods like vegan patties, low sugar cookies, dairy-free cheeses etc., and so I take heart that I’m on the right path. To answer my earlier question, hope is invaluable; a priceless commodity. You can’t buy it - you either have it or you don’t and if you do, nurture its powerful capacity.