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Beyond Meat moves closer to its perfect burger

Plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat is moving closer to its version of the perfect burger: one that has far less fat than traditional ground beef, with a taste that is very close to grilled cow.

Beyond Meat (BYND) unveiled two new versions of its popular Beyond Burger Monday. The Beyond 35 boasts 35% less total fat (and 35% less saturated fat) than traditional 80/20 ground beef. Meanwhile, the Beyond 55 also has 35% less total fat versus 80/20 ground beef but 55% less saturated fat. Beyond didn’t disclose the total nutritional profiles of the new burgers, which will debut in early 2021.

Founder and CEO Ethan Brown tells Yahoo Finance the Beyond 35 will have approximately 5 grams of saturated fat — relatively in line to the current iteration of the burger in 4 ounce form. The Beyond 35 will be the one used for the company’s restaurant partners. As for the Beyond 55 — which is tantamount to Beyond’s first low fat burger — it will have roughly 3 grams of saturated fat and be available at grocery stores.

The only ingredient removed in the new versions was mung bean, replaced by a blend of pea and rice protein. Beyond says B vitamins and minerals were added, too.

For Brown, who likes to think of his plant-based meat as being like a tech gadget that should be constantly improved, the new burgers take him closer to his holy grail of burgers. He tells Yahoo Finance the products should help quiet criticism that plant-based meat isn’t healthy because of high levels of fat.

“If you’re starting with a blank canvas and you are saying we can create a burger that is better for people and for the planet, you do need to be responsible and you need to think about how you can reduce the overall levels of saturated fats,” Brown said. “What’s the perfect burger? I think in this case it’s really around continuing to collapse the gaps in sensory experience between our burgers and 80/20 ground beef. So then it’s just truly indistinguishable. That is the Holy Grail. And then once we get there, it will be to continue to iterate around other parts of the platform such as beef, steak and everything else.”

FILE - In this June 27, 2019, file photo a meatless burger patty called Beyond Burger made by Beyond Meat is displayed at a grocery store in Richmond, Va. Shares of Beyond Meat are tumbling in Thursday, Aug. 1,,  premarket trading after the plant-based meat maker priced a secondary stock offering at more than six times its initial public offering opening price. AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE – In this June 27, 2019, file photo a meatless burger patty called Beyond Burger made by Beyond Meat is displayed at a grocery store in Richmond, Va. Shares of Beyond Meat are tumbling in Thursday, Aug. 1,, premarket trading after the plant-based meat maker priced a secondary stock offering at more than six times its initial public offering opening price. AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Growth hungry analysts on the Street may welcome what Beyond just announced, which is really twofold.

First, a revamped core product that could lure in those meat eaters concerned about high levels of fat in plant-based foods. And two, a potentially new stream of low fat products. Put these together, and Beyond’s growth picture looks better than it has this past week or so.

Recall that Beyond Meat shares have shed nearly 20% over the past week as third quarter earnings fell well short of estimates as the COVID-19 pandemic hurt sales. The results have led to analysts cutting their sales and profit estimates on Beyond for the balance of 2020 and 2021.

Brown, in a prior interview on Yahoo Finance Live to discuss a new tie-up with Pizza Hut, remains upbeat on his company’s prospects after the challenging third quarter. “It is absolutely COVID-related and that’s what people need to understand,” Brown explained, pointing to consumers needing to eat through products they bought at the height of the pandemic and for restaurants to return to some form of normalcy.

Added Brown, “Once you see that, we’re seeing the growth resume and I am positive about where the brand is. Even though the [third] quarter is difficult, you will see the strong underlying metric of growth.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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