Fast-food chains have tapped into the potential of the meat substitute market. McDonald’s released its first plant-based burger in the UK in 2021 – the McPlant and KFC’s vegan chicken burger is now a permanent menu item in the UK. Both companies worked with Beyond Meat to create their new meat alternatives.

Founded in 2009 with products launched in 2012 Beyond Meat have combined expert innovation with high-quality, plant-based ingredients to deliver plant-based burgers and sausages that taste convincingly “meaty”.

Manufacturers of meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat are now using Intellectual Property, through registered patent applications to protect their innovations and investments. Patent applications are a useful measure of innovation and development in any given particular sector.

IP is an essential component in building brands versus just selling products. Protecting the innovation involved in the product composition or its manufacturing, will be essential to establish brands as market leaders in the meat-free market in the years to come.

IP is a critical component of brand building. This applies to the protectable elements of a brand’s visual presentation, as well as proprietary technology and innovation. Beyond Meat’s approach is interesting on several levels. First, in a growing & potential cluttered category they are working hard to build a quality/superiority position through a ‘not all plant-based meat substitutes are the same’ message. They are marrying this with an ‘Intel inside’ type approach to ensure big brands choose to partner Beyond Meat. This is a great way to build scale, but only works because the IP/branding will ensure they own the value i.e. they are not just supplying, they are partnering. A clever approach to building a brand leadership position in a new, emerging category. Final word on IP – some of it is common sense, but access to expert commercial and legal input is essential when brands start out, innovate or face challenge and threat. The 91è is an expert advisor/partner for brand owners.