Beyond Meat hires Tyson veterans in push to boost production and lower costs


Dive Brief:

  • Beyond Meat has added two 30-year veterans from Tyson Foods to its leadership ranks as it seeks to ramp up expansion in retail and foodservice in the U.S. and abroad. Doug Ramsey, who oversaw Tyson’s poultry and McDonald’s businesses, has been appointed COO. He replaces Sanjay Shah, who left Beyond Meat to lead fulfillment for delivery company Gopuff in September.
  • Bernie Adcock is joining Beyond Meat in the newly created role of chief supply chain officerAdcock, who has more than three decades of experience at Tyson in operations and supply chain management, will report to Ramsey.
  • Beyond Meat, which saw its shares tumble last month after reporting lower-than-anticipated revenues, is bringing in seasoned experience from the two protein industry veterans to guide it as it works to expand in foodservice and retail, overcome supply chain issues and bring its products to price parity with animal meat.

Dive Insight:

As the plant-based segment cools down after a pandemic surge, Beyond Meat’s revenue reports have been worrying investors who are beginning to doubt the sustainability of its expansion. The hiring of Ramsey and Adcock brings a pair of steady hands to the company as it seeks to instill confidence and pursue emerging areas of growth.

These opportunities include foodservice, which Ramsey has many years of experience handling at Tyson. He steps in after a series of partnerships forged by Beyond Meat, including a three-year agreement with McDonald’s to supply the McPlant sandwich, which is being piloted at several locations globally. It also has a deal with Yum Brands — owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell — to develop plant-based protein menu items to debut over the next several years.

Beyond Meat has also launched chicken tenders, made of fava bean protein, at hundreds of foodservice locations and select grocers this year. On the CPG side, Beyond Meat has formed a joint venture with PepsiCo to develop plant-based drink and snack products, which are slated to make their debut in early 2022. 

While it seeks to expand into foodservice and supercharge innovation, Beyond Meat has also been wrestling with supply chain issues that have tripped up a faster pace. In its third-quarter earnings call last month, Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown said that the company’s sales suffered from the ongoing supply chain crisis, as well as the continued impact of COVID-19 on foodservice locations.

In its press release, Beyond Meat noted Adcock’s experience incorporating innovative supply chain technology and strategic oversight.

“Doug and Bernie bring a proven track record of impressive operational excellence in the protein industry that our global partners, customers, and consumers expect and deserve,”  Brown said in a statement.

Ultimately, the two Tyson veterans will help Beyond Meat hit what has been a long-term objective: getting its products to reach price parity with animal protein. Brown told CNBC that Ramsey and Adcock understand how to bring protein products to a price customers are able to afford. 

“Everything we have going, whether it’s the partnership with McDonald’s, with Yum, with PepsiCo, there’s an enormous amount of growth on the table, and we need to make sure we have the very best in operational and supply chain capabilities available to us and our customers,” Brown said to CNBC.

These hires are not the first time Beyond Meat and Tyson have crossed paths. Tyson bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat in 2016, and its former CEO Tom Hayes told Food Dive in 2018 that acquiring the company was not off the table for Tyson’s venture capital arm. However, Tyson sold its share — which had grown to more than 6.5% — in 2019 just as Beyond Meat prepared to go public. The meat giant is now a competitor of Beyond, introducing its plant-based Raised & Rooted line of nuggets and blended burgers in 2019, and expanding it to include hamburger patties and grounds, and sausages earlier this year.

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