How to Invest in the Vegan Trend

When you consider fast food franchises like KFC and McDonald’s, ethical and health conscious aren’t exactly the descriptors that come to mind.

When you boil it down, these are companies that thrive on our undeniable human weakness towards fat, sugar and salt. They know what we crave, when we crave it, and how to make it as mouth-wateringly delicious and cheap as possible.

That’s why the drive-thru, 24-hour model where you can get fat-soaked chips and nuggets at any hour of the night has been so successful.

But are these companies looking to change their ways?

Fast food with a conscience is not a concept that existed until very recently, but has since exploded onto the scene with a force few of us were expecting.

The plant-based movement has been growing for some time now, and with the massive consumer demand that has followed it, fast food chains are beginning to catch on.

KFC in the UK is reportedly working on a new vegan chicken burger — one that has vegans and vegetarians who enjoy hangover food rejoicing the world over.

Both KFC Vietnam and Canada have had a vegan option for years now, and this recent expansion is yet another indication of how far reaching this trend is.

Even McDonald’s, a brand that thrives on excessively processed meat, is jumping on the bandwagon.

The chain is now selling a vegan burger, the Big Vegan TS, in Germany, which is its fifth biggest overseas market. And if the roll-out is successful (which it’s very likely to be), you could see a vegan option pop up on your local McDonald’s menu very soon.

The food industry is clearly ready for a shake-up for the better. We’ve already got vegan Cornettos, vegan Magnums, all vegan pubs, vegan cheese, vegan tuna and vegan makeup.

And with a new vegan company popping up almost every week, plant-based stocks are truly becoming the savvy investor’s playground.

Could lithium be Australia’s next resource boom? Click here to find out.

The best thing since sliced flesh

World-leading vegan mock-meat brand, Beyond Meat, had their Wall Street debut this week, which ended in overwhelming success. Despite the stock market being under pressure amid trade war concerns, at the start of trading shares were priced at $25 each and settled at $65.75 at the close, marking a gain of 163%.

It’s worth noting that this marks the best debut listing of any company since the GFC in 2008.

With the company now valued at $8.3 billion, they’re now planning to use the funds to continue their expansion across the globe, and stand up to competitors including Silicon Valley start-up Impossible Foods.

Already the company has investors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Gates and former McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson.

Even the biggest US meat processor, Tyson Foods, had a 6.5% stake before making the (perhaps wise) decision to develop their own brand of vegan products. I doubt there could be a more obvious indicator of the growing vegan movement than that.

As Beyond Meat founder and chief executive Ethan Brown states:

We understand the composition of meat, we understand the architecture and year after year we collapse the gaps between our product and animal protein.’

Already the company has expanded in the UK, and here in Australia, with the burgers being rolled out across chain stores like Grill’d and Lord of the Fries to meet the overwhelming demand.

Companies like Beyond Meat aren’t the only on players on the scene either. If you peruse the isles of your local Woolworths or Coles, you’ll find a myriad of vegan brands which provide an ethical alternative in the meat and dairy sections.

And the data suggests consumers are eating it up.

According to research conducted by the Vegan Society, there were 540,000 vegans across the UK in 2016, compared with around 150,000 in 2006. No doubt this figure is much higher now.

And according to data research firm Neilson, the market is reflecting that growth. In the US, supermarket sales of meat alternatives surged 19.2% to $US878 million for the year ended January 5 alone.

Overall, the market is anticipating this growth to continue. According to Euromonitor International data, the US meat substitute market is worth about $1.44 billion and by 2023, the market is expected to grow 74% to $2.5 billion.

So not only is this a trend that is growing fast, but all of the data suggests that it’s one that is here to stay for good. With the biggest fast food chains and meat manufacturers getting involved, this movement clearly isn’t about making a quick buck of a passing fad. We’re talking about a complete revolution in the way humans produce and consume food.

The main point is this. Keep an eye on your local supermarket shelves and watch this trend unfold.

Because if you get in early on the companies developing these products as they continue to take over big chunk of the global meat market, that could result in some incredible gains.

This week in Money Morning

On Monday, Harje asked the hard-hitting questions that have crossed all of our minds at some point. What if the government can’t pay off their debt? What if banks do go bust? What would that mean for property values? How can I shelter myself from such an apocalypse?

To read Harje’s potential solution, click here.

Then on Tuesday, Harje explained this whole trade war as not a war on trade, but a war on dollars. Trump is trying to starve China of US dollars. The longer he waits, the most desperate China becomes to make a deal. And the repercussions of that could have a significant impact on your portfolio…

To learn more, click here.

One of the main points we’ve been hearing over and over again in the trade talks between the US and China is that Trump doesn’t want China riding American coattails. But as Harje wrote on Wednesday, during the latest negotiations, Chinese officials seemed to backpedal on this very point, or so we’re told. So what does this mean in the grand scheme of the trade war?

Click here to find out.

We can withstand a global turndown, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. Of course, this is exactly what any politician would say. ‘It’s us that do everything good. In fact, we would have done more if it wasn’t for those guys on the other side!’ But as Harje pointed out on Thursday, these personal character attacks do nothing to address the root problem. So should we be concerned for a market crash?

To find out, click here.

It’s D-day for the US and China. But a new countdown has begun…after seeing Trump’s ultimatum tactic on China, Iran is thinking of doing something similar. You might remember about a year ago, Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear deal. He also imposed economic, trade, scientific and military bans on Iran. But as Harje questioned on Friday, is this decision about to backfire on the US?

Click here to find out.

Until next week,

Katie Johnson,
Editor, Money Weekend

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Money Morning is Australia’s most outspoken financial news service. Your Money Morning editorial team are not afraid to tell it like it is. From calling out politicians to taking on the housing industry, our aim is to cut through the hype and BS to help you make sense of the stories that make a difference to your wealth. Whether you agree with us or not, you’ll find our common-sense, thought provoking arguments well worth a read.

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