EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. – Beyond Meat Inc. started strong in fiscal 2020, but was hit hard by the pandemic as foodservice channels like universities, hospitality, corporate catering, and bars and pubs shut down. Despite the shutdowns, management kept its focus on the future and continued to invest to add scale.

“We invested heavily in China, where we built a sophisticated production facility in Jiaxing, and in The Netherlands, where we opened two facilities,” said Ethan Brown, president and chief executive officer, during a Feb. 25 conference call to discuss fiscal 2020 results. “One is an independent operation, and one owned and operated by our partner, Zandbergen.

“We grew our operations team and acquired a new production plant in Pennsylvania, and we signed a long-term lease for brand-new corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, where we are building a state-of-the-art home for our growing research team and their laboratories collectively referred to as the Manhattan Beach Project. These investments and activities, particularly during this period of COVID-19 revenue disruption, generated losses. They were, however, nonnegotiable as we lay the foundation for forward growth.”

Beyond Meat recorded a loss of $52.8 million during the year ended Dec. 31, 2020, greater than the loss recorded in fiscal 2019 of $12.4 million.

Sales for the year rose to $407 million from $298 million the year prior.

In the United States, sales surged 63% to $324.9 million. US retail sales rose 104% to $264.1 million while foodservice sales fell 14% to $60.1 million.

International sales fell 17% to $81.9 million. While international retail sales rose 136% to $36.5 million, foodservice sales fell 45% to $45.4 million.

In addition to COVID-19 induced slowdowns at hotels, universities and stadiums, the company has seen a slowdown in development and trial with its quick-service restaurant partners.

“Within quick-serve restaurant chains in both our US and international regions, overall sales remained well below pre-COVID levels,” Brown said. “This downturn is consistent, with an emphasis among quick-serve restaurant partners on core menu items during this period of disruption as well as being reflective of a wait-and-see approach to COVID-19 infection trends with regard to further tests, trials and launches.

“We are beginning to see some nascent evidence of an emergent near-term activity within the quick-serve restaurant space, including the national and select trials of Beyond Meat products at Pizza Hut US and Pizza Hut UK, respectively.”

In fiscal 2021, management expects to continue to feel the effects of COVID-19. In addition to lagging the recovery of the broader foodservice sector, Beyond Meat also is facing a moderation in demand at retail as consumers shift from an accelerated stock-up phase to a more normal pace of demand. Citing continued market uncertainty, the company did not issue guidance for the year ahead.