The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has agreed to consolidate five false advertising lawsuits brought against Beyond Meat, at the request of the company.
Plaintiffs include Don Lee Farms, a manufacturer of both plant-based and conventional meat that was formerly the exclusive supplier of Beyond Meat products. Three Beyond customers have also brought a civil class-action lawsuit against the company.
The complaints all centre on the alleged misrepresentation of the amount of protein found in Beyond products. Don Lee Farms claims to have had the meat alternatives tested by an independent laboratory, which said the protein content was around 30% lower than stated on the packaging. The company also accuses Beyond of falsely claiming its products are free from synthetic ingredients, when in fact they contain methylcellulose — an ingredient that is said not to occur naturally.
Beyond Meat and the plaintiffs have agreed to transfer the consolidated case to the Northern District of Illinois, as the individual cases were spread across four districts.
Beyond Meat has been struggling over the past year, experiencing wider-than-expected losses and decreased revenue. The brand has attributed this to consumers opting for cheaper products, driven by inflation. Increased competition in the plant-based meat sector is also believed to be a factor.
“Though this quarter’s results are disappointing, with a sharp decline in revenues and associated knock-on effects across the income statement including gross margin driven by a challenging macro environment, we are implementing aggressive measures with urgency to positively impact our near-term operations,” said CEO Ethan Brown in November.