Some people invest in vegan stocks because they’re vegans themselves and they want to put their money where their morals are. Others are looking to cash in on hot stocks as the long-simmering meatless movement finally trends its way into the mainstream. Others are buy-and-hold investors who are by this point convinced that the growing trend has much farther to climb. Either way, you’ve got options — including the nine featured below — and there are plenty of reasons to believe that they have nowhere to go but up.
Like Vegan Food, Plant-Based Stocks Have Gone Mainstream
Until recently, veganism — and even vegetarianism — was a tiny niche that was completely alien and often ridiculed in much of America. Investors certainly weren’t lining up to plunk down cash on companies that dealt in things like seitan, tempeh and portobello steaks.
That’s all changed.
People have become far more aware of what they’re eating, contributing to the growing number of those who follow a vegan diet. Others have adopted a vegan diet because of concerns about the cruelty and suffering experienced by animals on factory farms or about the harm the meat and dairy industries cause to the environment.
The vegan food market reached $15.4 billion in 2020, according to Expert Market Research, and that market is expected to soar to $26.1 billion in just five years, by 2026. If you’re looking for stocks that could help you cash in, consider the following options:
- Beyond Meat (BYND)
- Tattooed Chef (TTCF)
- Impossible Foods (N/A)
- Laird Superfood (LSF)
- The Very Good Food Company (VRYYF)
- Burcon NutraScience Corp. (BUROF)
- Maple Leaf Foods (MLFNF)
- Else Nutrition (BABYF)
- US Vegan Climate ETF (VEGN)
Beyond Meat (BYND)
Beyond Meat is the rock star of the vegan world. In the same way that people who know nothing about basketball have heard the name LeBron James, Beyond Meat is now a household name even among the most die-hard carnivores.
It’s not hard to understand why.
The brand’s burgers, sausages and meatballs are sold nationwide at the most mainstream of mainstream chains, including Target, ShopRite, Dunkin’, Carl’s Jr., TGI Fridays and Walmart. Its May 2019 initial public offering was the stuff of legend, soaring 163% and nearly tripling in price in a single day, breaking every previous IPO’s record since the start of the 21st century.
So, the brand is popular and famous, and its early investors made a bundle in the beginning. But is Beyond Meat stock a good buy today? The former Wall Street darling fell out of fashion after a strong showing in 2020 due to pandemic shopping, losing 50% of its value in the first six months of 2021. Analysts expect this dip to be temporary, meaning shares of the world’s biggest meatless brand are currently being sold at a steep discount, which is good news for anyone looking to get in now.
Tattooed Chef (TTCF)
Tattooed Chef is one of the hippest vegan brands on the market. It specializes in preprepared frozen plant-based products. The stock was red hot, but it cratered by almost 14% in February, scaring many investors off. That sentiment is understandable but misplaced.
TTCF went public through a specialized process that involves a special purpose acquisition company.
SPACs issue some stock through something called special warrants, which allow initial investors to redeem their stock purchases at a prefixed price. When Tattooed Chef announced its warrant redemption date on Feb. 16, more than 10.7 million warrants were cashed in. That appeared to be a selloff and sent the stock southward. In reality, the company is not in trouble — its growth and revenue numbers are actually strong, with the company reporting 45% year-over-year growth in its most recent earnings report ahead of the launch of its products in 1,800 Kroger stores. But thanks to the warrant redemptions, shares are trading on a deep discount right now.
Impossible Foods (N/A)
Anyone who missed out on the early Beyond bonanza might soon be getting something that is incredibly rare in the world of IPOs and investing in general — a mulligan. On April 8, Reuters reported that the No. 2 biggest plant-based meat brand, Impossible, is finally ready to follow in the footsteps of its chief competitor, Beyond Meat, and launch an IPO of its own.
You can’t buy in just yet, but Reuters is confident that the brand is gearing up to go public after a long run of idling in the rumor mill. When it does, it’s believed Impossible Foods will be valued at $10 billion, 150% more than the $4 billion the company was worth during a private funding round in 2020.
The exact timing has not been nailed down, but Reuters reported in August that Impossible had appointed insider David Borecky as chief financial officer, suggesting the company might be inching closer. Borecky played a prominent role in Square’s 2015 IPO. So if you’re interested, set a Google alert or check back frequently. There’s a chance Impossible might go public through a SPAC instead of through a traditional IPO.
Impossible — and its famous Impossible Burger — is nearly as ubiquitous as its bigger rival. You can find it nationwide in the grocery aisles of big-box stores and in major supermarkets. Walmart, Target, Sprouts, Publix, Wegmans and Kroger, as well as in Starbucks — and, most impossibly, Burger King — all carry Impossible Burger.
Laird Superfood (LSF)
Even newer to the public market than Beyond Meat is Laird Superfood, a company that grew out of a single, supercharged coffee creamer concocted by surfing star Laird Hamilton. Despite the unfortunate timing of September 2020, Laird’s IPO was a smashing success. It didn’t hit triple digits like Beyond Meat, but its shares did jump 75% from their initial price at the start of the day, according to Barron’s.
Its most recent quarterly report, for the second quarter of 2021, was full of all kinds of good news that would make any investor smile, including a 64% year-over-year increase in net sales, driven in large part by strong online sales even as people return to in-store supermarket shopping. Direct-to-consumer sales were up 94%, wholesale increased 77%, and the list goes on.
The Very Good Food Company (VRYYF)
A small, emerging vegan food technology startup called The Very Good Food Company spent much of 2020 growing too big too quickly for investors not to take seriously. A Canadian company, it experienced massive, triple-digit growth in terms of both revenue and sales last year. It opened an online store called The Very Good Butchers, which sells gourmet vegan meats like barbecue pulled jackfruit, British bangers, steak, ribs and pepperoni, as well as specialty nondairy cheeses like pepper jack and smoked gouda.
But the real secret to the company’s 2020 success — and the future growth so many industry experts believe is still ahead — can be traced to expansion.
Very Good was shackled to an undersized facility in Canada, but it opened two enormous new facilities totaling tens of thousands of square feet of production space. Just one of them can produce 37 million pounds of product a year, an increase in production capacity of 2,690%. In March, Very Good broke its own sales record yet again.
This has been a difficult year for Very Good, with its stock seemingly in a freefall since January. However, the tide might be changing. The company released a statement on Oct. 7 announcing the appointment of Justin Steinback, a global leader in the consumer and packaged goods and food service industries, to its board. The announcement comes amid anticipation among market watchers that Very Good is soon to be listed on NASDAQ. Investors might be wise to jump on board now as Very Good grows into its new digs and readies itself for its next big move.
Burcon NutraScience Corp. (BUROF)
Companies like Impossible and Beyond Meat get all the fanfare — when you bite into one of their sizzling, surprisingly meaty meatless burgers at a Burger King or TGI Fridays, after all, it’s their name that’s on the menu. But if you’re looking to invest in the science behind the customer-facing finished product, consider a few shares of Burcon NutraScience. The company does the complex and high-tech work of extracting plant protein from raw materials like peas and canola for the production of things like alternative milk and mock meat.
The top brands in the biz rely on Burcon to make the building blocks of their vegan fare — and investors have taken notice. After securing tens of millions of dollars in funding, BUROF caught fire in August 2020 when its 12-month price target jumped from $3 to $4.25. By February 2021, the target was raised again, this time to $6. Despite a stock-price drop-off since then, analysts have bumped the target to $7, and the consensus rating reported by The Wall Street Journal remains “buy,” suggesting the stock could be seriously undervalued at recent prices hovering around $2.
Maple Leaf Foods (MLFNF)
Yet another Canadian company that’s way ahead of the curve is Maple Leaf Foods, which is a big player in the packaged grocery store segment of the vegan industry.
In 2019, it began a massive expansion with the creation of a division called Greenleaf Foods, which it developed to accommodate the brands it was gobbling up. These include Field Roast Grain Meat Co. and Lightlife, its plant-based protein brands. At the same time, it began building a massive new manufacturing facility. That facility — located stateside in Indiana — is now just one part of a larger expansion that Maple Leaf will complete by 2022.
In March, Simply Wall St reported that insiders were buying up large chunks of MLFNF, which is usually a good sign for a company’s stock.
Keep in mind that Maple Leaf Foods also offers meat-based products, so its portfolio of brands is not comprised only of those that offer plant-based products. Its frozen and refrigerated foods, which include meat-based offerings such as pot pies, sausages and deli meats, are marketed under names like Schneiders and Swift.
Else Nutrition (BABYF)
Anyone looking to get in on a specialized niche within the larger vegan industry might consider buying a few shares of Else Nutrition, a smaller company that deals specifically in vegan infant food. Based in Israel, Else Nutrition makes one plant-milk formula for babies and another for toddlers.
With the youngest generation born after 1995 now having children or about to have children, the floodgates of the baby food market are about to open to the most vegan-friendly generation in history. In an effort to get ahead of the competition, Else recently signed a distribution agreement with Imperial Distributors of Worcester, Massachusetts. Perhaps even better, Else announced on Oct. 4 that it has been approved for the Kroger Ship e-commerce service, which will allow consumers to purchase Else products on both Kroger.com and Vitacost.com.
US Vegan Climate ETF (VEGN)
Picking individual stocks is a risky venture that few people are qualified to do with any success over the long term. Giants like Warren Buffett have advised against it for decades. This is particularly true in emerging industries, where brands come and go rather quickly.
Exchange-traded funds let you buy into a collection of stocks with a similar theme with the purchase of a single share that can be bought and sold on the open market just like any stock. Since they’re not actively managed like mutual funds, ETFs are as cheap as they are accessible.
ETFs provide instant diversification and remove the guesswork for investors who are interested in an industry or sector, but who are too unfamiliar with that industry to be confident in their choices. Exciting niche industries like biotech, alternative energy and blockchain all have their own ETFs, and on Sept. 10, 2019, the vegan world joined the club. That day, Beyond Investing launched the world’s first vegan-themed ETF, which also caters to environmentalists — the US Vegan Climate ETF, which trades under the aptly named ticker symbol VEGN.
Instead of randomly picking a single vegan stock — or two or three — that sound like they might be good bets, consider VEGN. The purchase of a single share gives you a little sliver of 270 stocks that represent shares of companies that meet the ETF’s standards of ethical and humane treatment of animals and the earth. What’s more, VEGN thus far has remained unaffected by the volatility seen in many of the individual stocks. Other than a March 2020 dip signaling the beginning of pandemic shutdowns, share prices have risen steadily, gaining 17.71% so far this year.
Keep in Mind
These are just a few examples — there are many ways to invest in the meatless movement beyond just the hot stocks of the day. Vegan commodities include things like oats, wheat and soy as raw materials, for example. You could also invest in a company like Tyson Foods, which is not a dedicated meatless company — far from it — but one that is growing its already impressive line of vegan offerings.
Daria Uhlig contributed to the reporting for this article.
Data is accurate as of Oct. 7, 2021, and subject to change.