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As plant-based meat company Beyond Meat unveiled its new Beyond Steak this week, there are reports that the entire segment is "softening."

According to Beyond Meat, its new faux steak is "designed to deliver the juicy, tender and delicious bite of seared steak tips with the added nutritional and environmental benefits of plant-based meat …  Seared to perfection and chopped into bite-sized pieces, Beyond Steak provides a flavorful and satisfying experience for meat lovers and flexitarians alike. Packed with 21 grams of protein per serving, Beyond Steak delivers the tender bite and savory taste consumers crave while offering nutritional benefits, including being low in saturated fat and having 0 mg of cholesterol with no added antibiotics or hormones."

The item is being launched nationwide at Kroger and Walmart stores.

Meanwhile, Axios reports that "companies that make faux burgers and other meat substitutes are laying off employees and staring down weak sales, amid what Beyond Meat describes as 'ongoing softness in the plant-based meat category' …  Beyond Meat announced a 19% workforce reduction this month amid steepening revenue declines … Impossible Foods laid off 6% of employees, though it positions the move as part of a reorganization and says sales are growing."

The story notes that "the biggest fast-food chains and meat producers have raced to cash in on fake meat, sensing consumer appetite for sustainable and animal-friendly alternatives. But high prices and flattening demand have dogged the industry."  One indicator:  "McDonald's shelved plans to introduce a McPlant burger nationally," even as it brings back its McRib sandwich.

KC's View:

The question that remains to be answered is whether the plant-based meat segment is going to be a niche category, or have broader popularity that will give it equivalent and appeal positioning next to the real thing.  I don't know the answer, and I'm not sure anyone does at this point.