Original Article: Green Queen

Has it really been one year since the Beyond Meat IPO that rocked the world, breaking records as the year’s second most successful listing and the most successful vegan one of all time? In many ways, it feels like only yesterday. In others, the world feels completely different. By any account, the performance of BYND has been a hugely successful one and pre-anniversary, the announcement of Starbucks China’s new GOOD GOOD menu featuring three new Beyond Beef dishes sent the stock soaring 15% and the company also recently announced a new USD 150 million line of credit.

It is hardly a stretch to say that the offering, which was covered by news outlets across the globe and closed 163% up on the first day of trading, blew the alternative meat industry wide open. Big ticket investors had already underlined their commitment to the space with Beyond Meat having attracted big name VCs such as Kleiner Perkins and notable supporters such as Bill Gates. But the IPO brought with it a mass engagement with the brand and unprecedented public interest in the plant protein space. A watershed moment, the IPO was also a huge validation for an entrepreneur like Ethan Brown, the pioneering founder of Beyond Meat, and proof that his bet in a future where protein was produced without damaging the environment and without animals was a worthy one.

Without David Yeung and his vision for an Asia-based plant protein ecosystem, Beyond Meat might have looked like a far less global company when they went public. Before Yeung and his Green Common retail chain and wholesale business approached the plant patty maker about launching their start product in Yeung’s home base of Hong Kong, the US-based food tech startup was firmly focused on its domestic reach. And given the size of the US economy and the country’s growing appetite for all things plant-based, this was a viable and valid strategy.

When Yeung helped debut the Beyond Meat Burger in Hong Kong in 2017, the response was off the charts. Celebrities were posting about it non stop on their social accounts, there were countless media headlines and there were queues of people waiting to try it at Yeung’s Green Common restaurants. From then on, the excitement has barely waned. As of today, Green Common distributes Beyond Meat in five countries across the region and in Hong Kong only, it is available at more than 200 restaurant partners, as well as for retail purchase in the freezer section of many major supermarket chains.

Before Hong Kong was rocked with protests and before Covid-19 interrupted the world, I sat down with David Yeung to talk about the the IPO and his personal quest to bring Beyond Meat to Asia. Today, on the one year anniversary of the BYND offering, we are releasing this illuminating interview.

Yeung’s role in the Beyond Meat story is a vital one, and in our discussion, we cover the key parts of his journey with the company, including how Yeung first connected with Brown, what happened when he first tasted the Beyond Meat burger, the product’s Hong Kong debut, the subsequent expansion, and finally, the culmination of the IPO. A savvy, talented marketer, Yeung also shares insights about the importance of localising branding and making food aspirational. For anyone interested in the alternative protein space, this is very much a must-watch.