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Beyond Meat CEO: We're focused on the meat industry, not other vegetarian options

Key Points
  • CEO Ethan Brown said that consumers are moving the most quickly away from eating beef and pork.
  • Shares of Beyond Meat rocketed up 135% in its public market debut Thursday.
  • Brown founded Beyond Meat, which manufactures plant-based meat substitutes, in 2009.
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Beyond Meat begins trading at $46 per share

Beyond Meat isn't thinking as much about other makers of plant-based meat substitutes — like rival Impossible Foods or Nestle — as it is on taking down the mammoth meat industry.

"We really don't focus on the plant-based meat sector as much as we focus on the meat sector itself. That's a $1.4 trillion industry with just incredible diversity and potential globally," Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said on CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report " seconds after the company's stock began trading.

Brown founded Beyond Meat in 2009. The company sells fake burger patties, ground beef and sausage made with proteins from peas and faba beans. It previously sold chicken strips but is working to retool that formula.

"The consumer is moving most quickly away from beef and pork," Brown said.

U.S. consumers have been trying to cut down on their meat consumption for health reasons and environmental concerns. The World Health Organization, as Brown cited, has linked processed meat to cancer.

On Thursday, the company made its public market debut on the Nasdaq, trading under the symbol "BYND." The shares soared 135%, giving the company a market value of $3.52 billion.

"We're just looking forward to building the business, and I think the reaction from the market is a reflection of the fact that we're highly focused on collapsing the gap between our products and animal protein," Brown said.