Beyond Meat®

Veggie Chicken Strips from a Cumberland, Maryland Company

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Beyond Meat®, from Savage River, Inc., a meat analog company founded by Ethan Brown and based in Cumberland, Maryland, began out of concern for farm animals. As a child spending weekends on his family's farm, Brown grew increasingly concerned about the plight of animals raised for food. He eventually became vegan. Unsatisfied with meat analogs on the market, he decided to start a company that offered something "more realistic, tastier, and cheaper." He turned to Fu-Hung Hsieh at the University of Missouri.

Fu-Hung Hsieh, a biological engineering professor at the University of Missouri, and his assistant Harold Huff, perfected the technology to make a meat analog over many years. They used an industrial extruder to which a powder mix is added to water in certain proportions and heated to a very high temperature so that meat-like striations form. Then the product is quickly cooled so that it will not melt, but retain its fibrous, meat-like texture. The entire process only takes seconds. The university sold Brown exclusive licensing rights.

Made from soy, pea protein, amaranth, and carrot fiber with a few other vegan ingredients, Beyond Meat® Veggie Chicken Strips, according to Brown, "will appeal to vegans and vegetarians as well as mainstream consumers looking to incorporate meatless meals into their diets while maintaining the taste and texture of meat." According to product literature, a 3 oz. serving of Beyond Meat® Veggie Chicken Strips contains "18 g of com-plete protein, no saturated or trans fats, and is gluten-free." It is rich in iron and low in sodium ("260 mg/3 oz. compared to similar products with up to 690 mg/3 oz. serving"). There is no white sugar in the product. (The typically corn-derived sweetener, maltodextrin, is listed as an ingredient.)

Brent Taylor, Vice President of Corporate Development for Beyond Meat®, told The VRG that "unlike other meat analogs, ours has a visible fiber structure that pulls apart with your fingers...and I can eat it, stand alone, hot or cold, just like...chicken."

The VRG first learned of Brown's product in October 2011, when the writer spotted it on the menu at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary's ThanksLiving: There it was served as Savage River Faux Chicken Rajas in Orange Garlic Mojo. Since then, it has been served in many Mid-Atlantic universities and hospitals.

Mary Adams, Vice President of Marketing for Beyond Meat®, told us that "...36 northern California Whole Foods Markets began using Beyond Meat® in some of its prepared food items in mid-June 2012." These items may include chicken wraps, pastas, enchiladas, and salads. In Fall 2012, the product became available to consumers as a retail item. We have seen this product sold in Maryland Whole Foods Markets. Further expansion to other Whole Foods Markets, mainstream supermarkets, convenience stores, and similar establishments, is planned.

Soon to be launched by the company is a product called Veggie Beef Crumble, first to be used in foodservice with eventual plans for retail sale. Plans for a pork analog are also in progress. For updates to Beyond Meat's® entry to the marketplace, readers may consult its website: