BUSINESS
05/02/2019 17:12 EDT | Updated 05/03/2019 07:51 EDT

Beyond Meat Debuts On The Stock Market, Soars 163% In Its First Day

Bet you regret not jumping on this bandwagon.

Associated Press
Ethan Brown, center, CEO of Beyond Meat, attends an Opening Bell ceremony with guests to celebrate the company's debut on the Nasdaq, Thurs. May 2, in New York.

A fake meat maker's debut on the stock market turned into real returns for investors.

California-based Beyond Burger debuted on the Nasdaq Thurday morning at US$25 a share, and closed the day at US$65.75, up 163 per cent. It was the strongest stock market debut of 2019 so far.

The purveyor of plant-based burgers and sausages on Thursday became the first vegan "meat" maker to go public.

The 10-year-old company, based in El Segundo, Calif., has attracted celebrity investors like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. It sells to 30,000 grocery stores, restaurants and schools in the U.S. and abroad.

But the company has never made a profit. It's also facing serious competition from other "new meat" companies like Impossible Foods and traditional players like Tyson Foods.

The initial public offering (IPO) comes amid growing consumer interest in plant-based foods. U.S. sales of plant-based meats jumped 42 per cent between March 2016 and March 2019, to a total of US$888 million while traditional meat sales rose only 1 per cent to US$85 billion, according to Nielsen.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

The company recently struck a deal with major Canadian grocery chains to bring its Beyond Burgers to supermarkets in time for barbecue season. A&W launched a limited-time Beyond Meat burger across Canada last year, which sold out quickly.

Company CEO Ethan Brown said the IPO timing is right because the company wants to expand overseas. He also wants consumers to be able to buy shares since they have fueled the company's growth.

"It really is a wonderful feeling to be able to welcome people in who have helped this brand," Brown told The Associated Press.

— HuffPost Canada, with files from The Associated Press