Packaged FINDINGS: Beyond Meat Creates Intrigue and Confusion

Posted on Aug 22, 2019 by

As most people involved in food packaging know, consumers have become much more mindful about what they are eating, and nowhere is this more evident than in non-meat based products competing for a share of the burger market. Previously, vegan or vegetarian options for burgers have been relegated to health food devotees, but as more people understand the pressures of raising animals and bringing meat to market and the strain it puts on our resources, they are seeing the non-meat, plant-based alternative as a viable “burger” experience. So what is plant-based meat? First, it is not meat in the traditional sense – in its most simple form, it is the re-creation of meat flavor and texture through plant-based components. Vegan or vegetarian, the new “meat” is positioned as a healthy alternative, earth-friendly and animal-friendly way to indulge.

All this aside, the packaging for the burger alternative was what really caught my attention – in this case, the Beyond Meat® packaging for their plant-based burger patties. I wondered, with all the effort made to create this alternative to beef, why rely so heavily on the prompts of existing prepackaged meat to attract the consumer? Why not be as innovative with the packaging as they have been with the development of this new product? The package emulated contemporary beef patty packaging, placing preformed patties in a sealed tray, accompanied by small pieces of paper similar to how you might receive fresh meat from a butcher or deli market.

They do a fine job of providing important product detail with the sleeve, which clearly indicates this is something more than or “other” than meat, and they also do a good job of creating applied inquiry, encouraging the consumer to ask, “what is beyond”? What is confusing to me is the continued reference to the word “burger” (the shortened version of “hamburger”) in the product description, and the reference to the steer in a cape as the first element in the packaging communication.

I get this is Beyond Meat, but it would have been enough to focus on The Beyond Burger and expand on the plant-based competition, perhaps using slightly more appetizing copy. To me, content is important, and if this isn’t 100% pure beef, I want to know so much more about the “plant protein” – I have a natural concern about the content of what I consume. As I read through the Nutrition Facts and the ingredients, my conclusion is that for me, a well-grilled Portobello mushroom with no additives added to it is the better choice if I am excluding meat from my diet.

I would like to see the packaging more clearly communicate the nature and composition of the product, and spend less time focusing on the fact it is not traditional meat. There is a small line of copy on the back panel that I believe should be prominent on the face panel: “It’s a new breed of burger. Made from plants”. This statement creates a stronger sense of allure and appeal, promoting the newness of this alternative. I don’t know if I will try this product soon, but it is intriguing, and from a structural viewpoint the packaging works well. I would rearrange and reprioritize design elements to enhance communication. I think the package would connect much better, making it inviting to “meat” the product.


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The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold, delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.