Is that smell coming from Beyond Meat a delicious charbroiled faux burger? More likely, alas, it’s cash “being incinerated at a troubling rate,” as Motley Fool put it. The promising mock meat brand, a darling of the early pandemic, now is struggling to survive inflation and a fickle public.

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In 2020, refrigerated plant-based meat sales soared 75%. But sales dropped off in 2021 and haven’t picked up in 2022. Beyond Meat has especially flailed. And its desperate attempt to save itself with a vegan jerky launch has put the brand further in the hole.

Related: Taste-testing the latest versions of Beyond and Impossible burgers

“Although Beyond Meat Jerky has approximately quadrupled the size of the plant-based meat snacks sub-segment, we had very high expectations for this product and velocities are now turning below initial forecast,” CFO Phil Hardin said of the launch, as reported by Motley Fool.

That’s a distinct downward velocity, with a $278 million loss in the first half of 2022. Motley Fool predicted that Beyond Meat may go broke in less than a year. There’s also the chance the brand might be able to sell itself to a larger food company. But maybe not if consumer demand for fake meat doesn’t pick up.

Part of the problem is that Beyond Meat targeted omnivores rather than vegans, capitalizing on environmental and climate change concerns. They place their burgers in the meat department, and partnered with Pepsi Co. to make jerky for sale in supermarkets and convenience stores.

But when the inflation hit, omnivorous shoppers balked at spending $8.35 per pound for fake ground when the real stuff cost less than five bucks. And are people shopping for snacks at 7-11 generally worried about their health or the environment?

As Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown sees it, “We went from a pandemic into record inflation, highest in 40 years, and for a sector that’s still gathering its feet and is still in sort of the first set of downs, that’s a very difficult set of conditions to navigate.”

Via Motley Fool, Supermarket Perimeter, Veg News

Lead image via Beyond Meat