Beyond Meat plans U.S. discounts, hopes to replace beef on summer grills

May 5 (Reuters) - Vegetarian burger maker Beyond Meat plans to offer large value packs and discounts to some U.S. retailers this summer, hoping to grab a larger share of the market as prices for beef rise due to COVID-19-related production disruptions.

The value packs, which will be frozen, and the greater-than-normal discounts are aimed at narrowing the price gap between Beyond’s plant-based burgers and beef, an issue analysts see as a hurdle to widespread adoption of Beyond’s burgers.

“It’s putting us closer within range and we’re going to try to further reduce that gap,” CEO Ethan Brown told Reuters. He noted however, that the discounts would be temporary.

“We’re not going to do anything on long-term pricing,” he said.

The coronavirus crisis has idled U.S. meat plants and slowed production. Some processors shut large slaughterhouses as the respiratory illness spread among workers.

Prices for beef shipped to wholesale buyers in large boxes have climbed to record highs as the coronavirus has reduced production as consumers want to start grilling hamburgers and steaks and as restaurants seek to reopen.

Beyond posted better-than-expected quarterly sales on Tuesday, but suspended its 2020 forecast due to the uncertainty surrounding its business brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit demand for its plant-based meat products at restaurants.

Beyond Meat’s premium in the market can be pronounced. During the first quarter, Beyond’s ground beef and beef patty alternatives were priced at around double and triple the price per pound of traditional ground beef, according to Wells Fargo. (Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by David Gregorio)