Beyond Meat, the maker of the plant-based Beyond Burger, is building a 26,000-square-foot research and development center at its headquarters in El Segundo. The facility is seven times the size of Beyond Meat’s existing facilities and will serve as the new home of the company’s Manhattan Beach Project, an initiative to bring together scientists, engineers, food technologists, chefs and researchers to “perfectly build a piece of meat directly from plants,” the company said.
|Ethan Brown, c.e.o. and founder of Beyond Meat|
“The expansion of the Manhattan Beach Project here in Los Angeles reflects our belief that building meat from plants is an opportunity of global importance, one that is deserving of investment levels consistent with what you’d find in alternative energy or health sciences, sectors with which we certainly share common goals,” said Ethan Brown, chief executive officer and founder of Beyond Meat. “We are seeing a record number of consumers expressing interest in a broader set of protein choices; to these consumers, it is our brand promise to enable them to eat what they love, from burgers to sausage, while feeling great about related health and environmental implications. The new center is designed to help us fulfill that promise to the best of our abilities.”
The new facility will house more than 100 employees and will include a kitchen, pilot line, R.&D. lab and a formal sensory space for consumer testing. The center is expected to enable accelerated experimentation, learnings and progress toward the goal of creating plant-based meat that looks, cooks and tastes like animal-based meat. This approach has included reimagining the use of existing imaging technologies to achieve a better understanding of the complexity of meat.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to perfectly build meat directly from plant materials, using only natural ingredients and without genetic modification,” said Dariush Ajami, Ph.D., who leads research and development at Beyond Meat. “The breadth of processes and technologies we are bringing in-house supports the company’s focus on rapid innovation, in some cases reducing timelines by half.”
Since launching in 2016, the Beyond Burger is available in the meat case at more than 5,000 grocery stores and served at more than 5,000 restaurants nationwide.The company has attracted some high-profile investors, including former McDonald’s chief executive officer Don Thompson, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Tyson Foods, Inc. Earlier this year, casual dining chain TGI Fridays added the Beyond Burger to the menu at its more than 450 restaurants nationwide, just a couple months after testing the product in several locations.