‘Beyond Meat’ Should Look Beyond Meat

Sylain Charlebois wrote . . . . . . . . .

Beyond Meat lost almost US$10 million in its second quarter, but it beat expectations on revenues. Regardless, Beyond Meat is now worth US$14 billion and is Wall Street’s best-performing initial public offering so far this year. But it does face challenges.

Beyond Meat’s stock price has increased by more than 800 per cent and mixed results released last week didn’t shock markets as the stock price quickly rebounded.

So no need to panic if you’re a Beyond Meat shareholder — at least not yet. The company now expects revenues to exceed US$240 million and to be profitable by year-end.

Priced into Beyond Meat’s evaluation are its partnerships with several key players in the food space. Beyond Meat is in more than 35,000 retail outlets around the world and has proven that protein-based manufacturing can be scaled up.

The company last week announced plans to sell more than three million additional shares, which is likely why the stock price dropped more than 10 per cent early in the week. But capacity will be an issue, given how much product is out there.

The company is now 11 years old and has gone through a few expansion periods, but nothing like this.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently committed to carrying the company’s products across the United States. By going with Dunkin’, democratizing a plant-based diet is clearly on Beyond Meat’s radar.

However, in many stores and restaurants, the product is often more expensive than beef. Most consumers will try the product purely based on curiosity, but this won’t last.

Still considered a premium product, Beyond Meat is now showing signs that it wants to market to the masses. It’s an interesting move on the company’s part, and an important one. Beyond Meat is not only masterful at marketing, but it clearly appreciates the power of distribution and the pull effect. That’s why the company is worth so much.

In Canada, A& W Restaurants, which acted as Beyond Meat’s ambassador last year, set the tone for what was to come.

Unlike other major food trends that we’ve seen, this time the food service sector was the catalyst and got grocers on the vegetable protein bandwagon. Most grocers in Canada now carry the product.

And with Tim Hortons making its Beyond Meat move, the brand awareness can only grow. The Tim Hortons strategy is about being inclusive and not leaving anyone behind. Any group with a vegan, a vegetarian or a flexitarian is welcome at Tim Hortons.

The coffee chain, known for coffee, doughnuts and muffins, wants a bigger part of the fast food business. But Tim Hortons also knows that its rival, McDonald’s Restaurants, needs to stay put for a while and not venture into plant-based territory. McDonald’s

has been Canada Beef’s chief cheerleader for decades and a key partner in the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef since 2016. The roundtable is intended to counter the overpowering plant-based narrative. So it’s awkward times for McDonald’s.

But it’s not all rosy for Beyond Meat. The company has become a lightning rod, caught in the middle of a very polarizing debate. The brand is almost isolated from the plant-based movement. Both Arby’s and Chipotle Mexican Grill have issued statements saying they don’t intend to carry Beyond Meat products any time soon. Some smaller, regional chains in Canada have done the same.

These companies are essentially catering to their meat-loving customer base. Arby’s went as far as to launch its first “megetable,” which it called a “marrot,” a carrot made entirely out of animal proteins. Such a move seems ridiculous but is in fact significant, since it points to a much broader issue for Beyond Meat.

Beyond Meat’s fixation on replicating the taste and texture of current natural products like beef has become the company’s greatest weakness. For obvious reasons, it wanted its products right next to natural meat products at the meat counter. The market is constantly comparing natural and plant-based versions.

Beyond Meat was caught at its own game recently when it suggested that its product is healthier than beef. That was a strategic no-no, even if some evidence suggests this is the case. Beef is a natural product and remains the most densely packed source of proteins with fewer calories. It’s a fact, and the product is known and enjoyed by many people.

The plant-based market is emerging but still highly undeveloped. Until other companies provide some decent competition, anything Beyond Meat does will affect many. Beyond Meat products are good but far from perfect, since a lot of science is needed to replicate what meat does on our grill and in our mouths.

As the plant-based market matures and channels settle, the market will also come to expect a true plant-based offering, not just a me-too product.

In a few years, given that Beyond Meat is such a research-and-development-driven company, the protein wars will cease and give way to a peaceful relationship between the meat counter and the plant-based section at the grocery store.

Over time, beef, pork, chicken and all other animal proteins will define themselves as natural but different products.

Until then, Beyond Meat should carry on doing what it does well and leave the meat industry alone.

Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, and a senior fellow with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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Miso-marinated Black Cod

Ingredients

4 (5- to 6-ounce) black cod fillets
1 cup dashi (1 tbsp dashi granules + 1 cup water)
8 heads baby bok choy, halved
1 cup roasted mushrooms

Miso Marinade

1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup white (shiro) miso
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar

Method

  1. Whisk together all of the miso marinade ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Arrange the fish in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Using your hands, rub the marinade all over each piece of fish. Let the fish marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat the oven to broil.
  4. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and pour 1/2 cup of the dashi into the baking pan. Broil the fish for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. The fish will continue to cook once removed from the broiler.
  5. While the fish is cooking, place the bok choy halves in a skillet, and add the remaining 1/2 cup dashi. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until cooked but still crunchy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the roasted mushrooms and heat them through.
  7. Place the vegetables and broth in heated bowls. Add the cod and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: True Food

In Pictures: Food of Vietnamese Restaurants in the U.S.

Low Muscle Mass in the Limps Increases the Mortality Risk of Seniors

Karina Toledo wrote . . . . . . . . .

Evaluating body composition, especially appendicular muscle mass, can be an effective strategy for predicting longevity in people over 65 years of age, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil.

The appendicular muscles are the muscles that move the appendages or extremities – the arms and legs. They also play a key role in stabilizing the shoulders and hips.

The researchers studied a group of 839 men and women over the age of 65 for approximately four years. They observed that all-cause mortality risk increased nearly 63-fold during the follow-up period in women with low appendicular muscle mass and 11.4-fold in men.

An article with results of the study, which was supported by FAPESP, is published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

“We evaluated the body composition of this group, focusing on appendicular muscle mass, subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. We then sought to determine which of these factors could predict mortality in the ensuing years. We concluded that the key factor was the amount of appendicular lean mass,” Rosa Maria Rodrigues Pereira, Full Professor and Head of Rheumatology at FM-USP and principal investigator for the study, told Agência FAPESP.

Body composition was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), also known as bone density scanning, using a densitometer purchased with funding from FAPESP during a previous project led by Pereira to assess the prevalence of osteoporosis and fractures in older women living in Butantã, a neighborhood in western São Paulo city. The same cohort of individuals over 65 years of age was studied in both projects.

“Participants were selected on the basis of the census performed by IBGE [Brazil’s national census bureau]. The sample was representative of the older members of the country’s population,” Pereira said.

The study sample comprised 323 men (39%) and 516 women (61%). The frequency of low muscle mass was approximately 20% for both men and women.

Silent disease

The gradual loss of muscle mass and quality associated with aging is known as age-related sarcopenia. Approximately 46% of Brazilians aged 80 or older have sarcopenia, according to the Brazilian Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

Especially when combined with osteoporosis, sarcopenia can increase the vulnerability of older people in that they become more prone to falls, fractures and other physical injuries. Low bone mineral density, particularly in the femur, was shown to correlate with mortality in elderly individuals by research published in 2016.

Pereira and her group developed an equation to determine which individuals can be considered to have sarcopenia based on the characteristics of the community studied.

“According to the most widely used criteria [appendicular lean mass in kg divided by height squared in m], most of the individuals identified as having sarcopenia are lean. However, our sample had a higher-than-average BMI [body mass index], so we substituted muscle mass for fat mass. Subjects with muscle mass that was 20% below average were classified as having sarcopenia,” Pereira said.

The researchers discussed this topic in articles published in Osteoporosis International in 2013 and 2014.

In addition to bone density, the researchers also analyzed blood samples and responses to questionnaires to evaluate diet, physical activity, smoking, consumption of alcoholic beverages, and the presence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dyslipidemia (abnormally elevated levels of fat in the blood).

At the end of the four-year period, 15.8% (132) of the volunteers had died; 43.2% had died from cardiovascular problems. The mortality rate was 20% for the men and 13% for the women in the sample.

“We then conducted a number of statistical analyses to detect differences between the subjects who died and those who remained alive, particularly, whether it was possible to predict a person’s death on the basis of body composition measured by the DXA examination,” Pereira said.

Differences

Generally, subjects who died were older, exercised less, and suffered more from diabetes and cardiovascular problems than those who remained alive. In the case of the women who died, they also had decreased BMIs. The men who died were more likely to suffer falls. All these variables were fed into the statistical model and adjusted for the end-result to show which body composition factor correlated best with mortality risk.

Only low muscle mass was found to be significant in the women, considering the adjustment variables, while visceral fat was also significant among the men. The mortality risk doubled with each 6 cm2 increase in abdominal fat. Curiously, a higher proportion of subcutaneous fat had a protective effect in the men.

“We found that other parameters also negatively influenced mortality in the men, statistically reducing the significance of appendicular muscle mass. In the women, however, muscle mass stood out as a key factor and hence had more influence,” Pereira said.

Menopause-related hormone changes may help explain the difference between men and women. “The rapid and significant transition from a protective estrogenic environment to a deleterious hypoestrogenic environment, which is particularly adverse for the cardiovascular system, may make the protective metabolic role of skeletal muscles, including the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, more important in the postmenopause period. This hormone change is far less abrupt in men,” she said.

Loss of muscle mass, which occurs naturally after the age of 40, can be unnoticed owing to weight gain, which is also common in middle age. Between 1% and 2% of muscle mass is lost annually after the age of 50, according to estimates. The factors that may accelerate muscle loss include sedentary habits, a protein-poor diet, chronic diseases and hospitalization.

In addition to their obvious importance in posture, balance and movement, the skeletal muscles have other functions that are essential to the body. They help regulate blood sugar by consuming energy during contraction and maintain the body temperature by trembling when cold. They also produce messenger hormones, such as myokinase, that assist communication with different organs and influence inflammatory responses.

The good news is that sarcopenia is preventable and can even be reversed by physical exercise, especially muscle toning. Attention to protein ingestion is also recommended.

The article “Association of appendicular lean mass and subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue with mortality in older Brazilians: The São Paulo Ageing & Health Study” by Felipe M. de Santana, Diogo S. Domiciano, Michel A. Gonçalves, Luana G. Machado, Camille P. Figueiredo, Jaqueline B. Lopes, Valéria F. Caparbo, Liliam Takayama, Paulo R. Menezes and Rosa M. R. Pereira can be retrieved from: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jbmr.3710.
 
Source: Agencia FAPESP

Study: Older Adults May Experience Brain Decline Before They Realize It

Jill Rosen wrote . . . . . . . . .

Some older adults without noticeable cognitive problems have a harder time than younger people in separating irrelevant information from what they need to know at a given time, and a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University could explain why.

The findings offer an initial snapshot of what happens in the brain as people try to access long-term memories and could shed light on why some people’s cognitive abilities decline with age while others remain sharp.

“Your task performance can be impaired not just because you can’t remember, but because you can’t suppress other memories that are irrelevant,” said senior author Susan Courtney, a cognitive neuroscientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins. “Some ‘memory problems’ aren’t a matter of memory specifically, but a matter of retrieving the correct information at the right time to solve the problem at hand.”

The findings from the study are published in Neurobiology of Aging.

The researchers had 34 people aged 18 to 30 (referred to as young adults for the study) and 34 people aged 65-85 (referred to as older adults) perform a mental arithmetic task while their brain activity was measured through functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. Other images were also collected to measure the integrity of the connections between brain areas called white matter tracts.

The task compared the participants’ ability to inhibit irrelevant information automatically retrieved from long term memory. They were asked to indicate whether a proposed solution to an addition or multiplication problem was correct or not—such as 8×4=12 or 8+4=32. These examples would create interference as participants considered the right answer because although they should answer “incorrect,” the proposed solution seems correct at first glance, based on long-term memories of basic math. This interference did not exist when participants were asked to answer clearly false equations like 8×4=22. Making the task even more complicated, the subjects were sometimes asked to switch to multiplication after they saw the addition symbol and vice versa.

Older adults were a fraction of a second slower at answering the questions than younger participants, particularly when there was interference, but the more dramatic difference showed up in the brain scans. Older individuals who had more difficulty with interference also had more frontal brain activation than young adults.

The brain imaging demonstrated that in some aging participants, fibers connecting the front and back of the brain appear to have been damaged over the years. However other older individuals had fibers similar to much younger subjects. The greater the integrity of these fibers, the better the participant’s task performance, said lead author Thomas Hinault, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins.

“Everyone we studied had good functioning memory, but still we saw differences,” Hinault said. “There are so many disruptions in the world and being able to suppress them is crucial for daily life.”

The researchers were surprised to find that during parts of the task that were the trickiest, where participants had to switch between multiplication and addition and were asked to add after they saw a multiplication command or vice versa, the people with the strongest brain fiber connections performed even better. Something about deliberately exercising the mind in this fashion made the most agile minds even more so.

“If you have good connections between brain networks, that will help,” Courtney said. “If not, you have interference.”

Source: HUB


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