The Latest: Beyond Meat shares close 163% higher

NEW YORK — The Latest on Beyond Meat's initial public offering (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Investors gave a beefy welcome to Beyond Meat in its debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Thursday.

The fake meat company's share price jumped 163 percent to end the day at $65.75 per share.

The California-based purveyor of plant-based burgers and sausages is the first vegan "meat" maker to go public. The 10-year-old company has attracted celebrity investors but has never made an annual profit.

The IPO comes amid growing consumer interest in plant-based foods. Even Burger King has recognized the appeal. Earlier this week, the fast food chain announced that it would start testing the Impossible Whopper, made with a plant-based burger from Impossible Foods, in additional markets after its monthlong test in St. Louis proved successful.

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown says his company could have continued to attract private funding, but wanted consumers to be able to participate in Beyond Meat's growth.

"We have the ambition to really be a large and sustainable global protein company," Brown told The Associated Press.

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1:15 p.m.

Beyond Meat's shares are zooming upward in its stock market debut.

The fake meat company's share price rose to $59 on the Nasdaq Thursday afternoon, more than double their starting price of $25.

The California-based purveyor of plant-based burgers and sausages is the first vegan "meat" maker to go public. The 10-year-old company has attracted celebrity investors but has never made an annual profit.

The IPO comes amid growing consumer interest in plant-based foods. U.S. sales of plant-based meats jumped 42% between March 2016 and March 2019 to a total of $888 million while traditional meat sales rose only 1% to $85 billion, according to Nielsen.

Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said the IPO timing is right because the company wants to expand overseas. He also wants consumers to be able to buy shares since they have fueled the company's growth.

"It really is a wonderful feeling to be able to welcome people in who have helped this brand," Brown told The Associated Press.

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6 a.m.

Beyond Meat is expected to make its debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Thursday.

It's the first time a manufacturer of plant-based meat is going public.

California-based Beyond Meat makes burgers and sausages out of pea protein and other ingredients. It raised about $240 million selling 9.6 million shares at $25 per share. That values the company at about $1.5 billion.

The 10-year-old company has attracted celebrity investors like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. It sells to 30,000 grocery stores, restaurants and schools in the U.S. and abroad.

But the company has never made a profit. It's also facing serious competition from other "new meat" companies like Impossible Foods and traditional players like Tyson Foods.

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