Blue Apron beefs up menu with Beyond Meat, shares surge 35%

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Blue Apron is shown on a large sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange before the company's IPO in New York, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(This version of July 16th story corrects headline to show closing stock change)

(Reuters) - Blue Apron Holdings Inc's APRN.N beleaguered stock closed 35% higher on Tuesday after the meal-kit subscription service said it would add Beyond Meat Inc's BYND.O plant-based burgers to its menu, betting on a growing market for premium meat alternatives to attract new customers.

Overwhelmed by rising competition and falling sales, Blue Apron’s stock has collapsed since its Wall Street debut in 2017. After Tuesday’s rally, it was still down more than 90% from the price in its initial public offering.

Blue Apron said its Signature Two-Serving Plan - a curated meal plan subscription - would include recipes using the Beyond Burger, a four-ounce patty with 20 grams of plant-based protein.

Beyond Meat shares closed 3.6% higher, and have increased over 580% since its public listing in May, making it 2019’s most successful U.S. IPO by far. Its investors are betting the California company will become the dominant player in the nascent market for plant-based hamburgers, sausages and other meat alternatives, even though it has yet to turn a profit.

The company's burger patties and sausages are on sale in supermarkets at prices higher than equivalent meat products. Its foods are also sold through Carl's Jr, Del Taco TACO.O and other restaurants.

“We know a growing number of customers are interested in plant-based proteins, whether as an alternative to meat, a desire to explore a new ingredient, or an opportunity to make more sustainable food choices,” Blue Apron Chief Executive Linda Kozlowski said in a statement.

U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods grew 11% in the past year, bringing the total market value to $4.5 billion, according to new data from Good Food Institute and trade organization Plant Based Foods Association.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Chang