Plant-based meat purveyor Beyond Meat announced that it is building a new 26,000 sq. ft. research and development (R&D) center at its headquarters in El Segundo, Cal.
The new facility will house more than 100 employees and will be the new home to Beyond Meat’s Manhattan Beach Project, its ongoing initiative to bring the best and brightest scientists, engineers, food technologists, chefs and researchers together in service to the goal to perfectly build a piece of meat directly from plants, according to the announcement.
“The expansion of the Manhattan Beach Project here in Los Angeles (Cal.) 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,” Beyond Meat chief executive officer and founder Ethan Brown said.
“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,” Brown said.
The center is seven times the size of the existing facilities and will serve as the foundation of Beyond Meat’s commitment to innovation through accelerated experimentation, learnings and progress toward the goal of building plant-based meat that is indistinguishable from its animal-based equivalent.
Reimagining the use of existing imaging technologies to gain a better understanding of the complexity of meat and applying this knowledge to rebuild meat from plant material is a key focus for the Beyond Meat team.
“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. 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,” said Dr. Dariush Ajami, who leads R&D at Beyond Meat.
Complementing the efforts on the R&D side will be a cutting-edge gourmet kitchen to host chefs and culinary experts, as well as a formal sensory space for real-time consumer testing and panels, the announcement said.
Beyond Meat is a privately held company founded in 2009 with a mission of building meat directly from plants. Spanning frozen and fresh, Beyond Meat’s portfolio of plant-based proteins are sold at more than 19,000 retail outlets nationwide.
The company’s Beyond Burger looks, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows but is made entirely from plants, without genetically modified organisms, soy or gluten, the announcement noted. Since debuting in 2016, it is available in the meat case at 5,000-plus grocery stores and is on the menu at more than 5,000 restaurants nationwide, including TGI Fridays, BurgerFi, Bareburger and Epic Burger.