Beyond Meat grabs a big mouthful at Sainsbury

Los Angeles based Beyond Meat is ramping up its European business with deals in Sainsbury and Waitrose as well as new listings in Austria.

Beyond Meat factory, Netherlands

In June 2020 the company signed a joint manufacturing deal with Zandbergen to produce its burgers and sausages in Europe. This was its first production facility outside the US.

Zandbergen is a privately owned, chilled and frozen meat business based in the Netherlands.

Later in 2020 Beyond Meat announced a production agreement with the Jiaxing Economic & Technological Development Zone near Shanghai. In China Beyond Meat has focused on signing deals with QSR chains.

Dig below the headlines and whilst Beyond Meat’s revenues exceeded US$400m in 2020, a solid 36% growth on 2019, the business posted losses in excess of US$50m. Actually for the last 5 years it has yet to produce a profit. An increase in SGAs contributed to the losses, according to the Financial Times.

I imagine one reason for signing joint manufacturing deals is to minimise capital expenditure, as well as be close to strategic customers like Sainsbury & Waitrose.

Beyond Meat IPO-ed at $25 a share and now trades around $135. However, analyst consensus is currently slanted towards hold-underperform, according to the FT.

Herbal candy Ryukakusan’s exports accelerate dramatically, only to face the danger of fakes

The exponential growth in tourists to Japan, now over 31 million/y, has been manna from heaven for many, especially drug stores.

In bound tourists spend on average $50/person on Japanese medicines which has resulted in the creation of new markets when visitors return home.

150 year old Ryukakusan, a maker of Rx and OTC products, as well as a popular line of throat candies, has seen its overseas sales jump 6 fold in the last 4 years thanks to distribution tie ups in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and America.

Ryukakusan advert: “Your throat’s body guard”

The Ryukakusan brand has a strong ‘Kampo’ image, medicines made from a concoction of plants. Kampo originated from China and is holistic in ethos. There are over 140 Kampo Rx products in Japan and over 90% of Japanese doctors have at some point prescribed them. Most drug stores devote shelf space to Kampo products in addition to traditional western OTC products.

Ryukakusan’s packaging is premium, distinctive and its handwritten kanji logo make it unmistakably Japanese. According to Japanese drug store trade reports, Ryukakusan has consistently been one of the most popular products purchased by tourists.

Fake on the left, genuine product on the right

However can you tell the difference between these two designs? It’s very hard. Only someone who reads Japanese might notice the middle character on the LHS pack has changed.

Where these fakes have come from has not been stated, though doubtless Ryukakusan have their suspicions.

Safe guarding your brand’s intellectual property is key for long term export success. Looking at the Ryukakusan packs it seems they haven’t paid due diligence to IP protection. I suspect that Ryukakusan have naively assumed that no one would deliberately copy their work.

Now they have their work cut out chasing down fakes, instead of brand building.

The 5 secrets of trademark protection are laid out in Export and Expand.

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