patent law

BEYOND MEAT Patent (and taco taste testing)

Beyond Meat IPO’d recently and has been going gangbusters since. As I write this today, the stock closed above $79.00, which is nuts considering that the first traded stock of the IPO was $46 less than a week ago. The stock is so hot that even though the market took a huge beating today, Beyond gained another 5%. Who knows, however, how long this run will last, if it hasn’t already ended (there was an intraday peak over $84).

picture of the taco that I ate, courtesy of my photographer wife

Yesterday, I tried two Beyond Tacos at Del Taco’s – a classic version and an avocado version – that both use the plant-based product of Beyond Meat. You might call it a collaboration between Del Taco and Beyond Meat, similar to how Taco Bell sells Doritos Tacos, and even more similar to how Umami Burger sells Impossible burgers.

First off, I am a big fan of most vegan/meat substitutes. The Beyond Tacos did not disappoint. To be fair, Del Taco could probably substitute anything in place of ground beef and I wouldn’t be able to tell over all the seasoning. I thought the tacos tasted awesome – not in an authentic street taco way, but they definitely satisfied my craving for a drive-through-crunchy-taco.

Earlier this year I wrote about an Impossible Food patent, which is a competitor of Beyond Meat in the vegan ‘meat’ space. While Impossible touts a patented approach to making vegan beef (using ‘heme’ protein), Beyond Meat does not appear to market a single dominant or groundbreaking technical strategy, nor is one obvious based on its patent portfolio.

In one Beyond Meat patent, US 9526267B2 claims a process for making a meat protein product. First, they combine a non-animal protein with some heat-stable ‘nutrient’ (defined as being unchanged under 115C) to create a vegan meat dough. The dough is sheared and heated to produce fibers that are aligned. The dough is then ‘set’ to ‘fix’ the fibers in place. A post processing step adds another ‘nutrient’.

It’s unclear to me what the ‘Gee Whiz’ of this patent is, but I think it might have something to do with the heat-stable nutrient and the shearing and heating of the dough. My guess is that the process aligns fibers (similar to animal meat) and simultaneously pack in nutrients and maintains a moisture level that is meat-like. This is just a guess, please don’t base any investment decisions on this or on anything else you read on my blog.

In any case, I look forward to seeing what Beyond tries to patent next, especially now that it’s RICH. In the meantime, I will definitely continue sampling other Beyond Meat products which now appear to be available everywhere (or at least everywhere in Los Angeles).

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