Beyond Meat's first-quarter earnings better than expected

Beyond Meat burgers on display at a store in New York

Beyond Meat burgers on display at a store in New York. Shannon Stapleton Reuters

The plant-based meat company is also looking to earn prime placement before other plant-based burger makers go to retail. It expects overall revenues to exceed $210 million this year, up more than 140% compared to last.

Expectations were high heading into Beyond Meat's report on Thursday, with its shares having jumped about 400% since its initial public offering a month ago.

Beyond Meat's imitation meat patties and sausages made from ingredients like pea protein, coconut and canola oil, while a great alternative for consumers conscious of the environment, still needs to put in the work to get more takers as they cost much more than beef burgers.

In addition, investors may also expect updates on the company's potential partnership with McDonald's, said Jefferies analyst Kevin Grundy.

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Sales are growing as people seek to cut down on meat for health and environmental reasons.

The California-based company said net loss widened to US$6.6 million in the three months ended March 30, from US$5.7 million a year earlier. Impossible has been struggling to meet the high demand for its product, suggesting that as interest increases in Impossible, more customers may turn to Beyond, as well. Chief executive officer Ethan Brown, on a postearnings conference call with analysts, said the forecast was "very conservative" and views it "as a floor".

Beyond Meat's highest priority in its grocery store placement is which section will draw the most traffic and drive the most sales for the company.

Brown said the company is in the testing phase with several fast-food chains but did not say which ones. Losses could continue to be in the picture as Beyond Meat expands distribution, invests in infrastructure and creates new products.

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With McDonald's and Yum Brands' KFC restaurants likely to test plant-based meat products this year, the Beyond Meat's revenue outlook is highly likely to tick higher.

As rival Impossible Foods deals with supply shortages of its plant-based burgers, Beyond Meat said Thursday that it has the capacity to take on any restaurant chain.

"We're at a point where plant-based meats have become a segment of their own, and by the end of the year we'll have a section exclusively dedicated to these products inside the meat department", said Beretta. Beyond Meat is now valued at almost $6 billion. Euromonitor predicts the market for plant-based meat substitutes will reach $2.5 billion by 2023.

John Beretta, group vice president for meat and seafood merchandising at Albertsons Companies Inc, which owns Safeway Inc, Lucky and Randalls stores, said the meat case will change based on consumer demand, with plant-based items potentially replacing some meat products.

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