Is plant burger firm Beyond Meat really worth $ 1.5bn?

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Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat has lifted its share price ahead of US flotation on Wednesday, valuing the plant-based meat maker to nearly $ 1.5bn (£ 1.1bn

The US firm, which counts actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio among its investors, will now offer its shares at between $ 23 and $ 25.

The decision to increase the price from the original range of $ 1[ads1]9 and $ 21 indicates strong Demand for the shares

But Beyond Meat Loss and does not know when it will report a profit

For its most recent financial results for 2018, Beyond Meat said losses hit $ 29.9m, slightly below the previous year but above a $ 25.1m loss in 2016.

Beyond Meat said it has reported losses since it was founded in 2009 due to its investment in "innovation and growth"

In its flotation document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), said: "We may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability.

"We have experienced no losses in each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability in the future."

Beyond delicious?

By Dearbail Jordan

First a disclaimer: I haven't eaten meat for 30 years which makes me either the worst person possible or the ideal candidate for a meatless Beyond Burger.

I find one on the menu at TGI Fridays in Manhattan where , interestingly, the waitress who takes my order makes sure I know that the beef-like patty is plant-based and not made of meat.

Her question flies in the face of Beyond Meat's strategy – the company that makes the burger – which asks retailers to stock its products alongside real meat so it is seen as an option for all consumers, not just vegans and vegetarians

Also striking is the calorie count.

A Beyond Burger with cheese in a bun with all the trimmings is a gut-busting 890 calories, just below TGI Friday's traditional cheeseburger which is 1,110 calories, proving that just because something is meat-free doesn't mean it's virtuous.

The Beyond Burger itself does look like meat – it is slightly pink in the middle and actually has char marks on the outside, it has been sizzling on a grill. The texture is fine and it doesn't have that rubbery consistency that has other non-meat alternatives.

Afterwards, however, I feel slightly bilious. It could be because the burger is like it makes me feel odd. But it doesn't make me try to find other products which include beef-like mince, maybe recreate my Mum's legendary spaghetti Bolognese.

But whether there are enough people out there to try Beyond Meat's products to justify that $ 1.5bn market valuation ahead of its stock market flotation on Wednesday remains to be seen

Beyond Meat is one of a number of so-called "unicorn" companies – which are privately-backed companies worth $ 1bn or more – to sell their shares to public investors this year.

Despite attracting high valuations, the majority of unicorn companies that have floated this year, or intend to have a profit.

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Image caption

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is backer of Beyond Meat

This week, the We Company, owner of shared office provider WeWork, filed paperwork with the SEC to enable it to float. It has a private valuation of around $ 47bn but its most recent losses doubled to $ 1.9bn.

in May. It has its share price range at between $ 44 and $ 50 each, valuing it at as much as $ 90bn but it is also a profit.

is counting on both meat eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans to grow its business.

It estimates that the global meat industry is worth as much as $ 1.4 trillion. Sales rose to $ 87.9m last year from $ 32.6m in the previous 12 months and $ 16.2m in 2016.

As well as Mr. DiCaprio, Beyond Meat also counts Microsoft underneath Bill Gates among its backers. The company will sell its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

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