It's been a great year for Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) shareholders. As of Dec. 15, the stock is up 83% since the beginning of the year. Granted, it's also been a volatile year, with three drops of 20% or more in 2020, which can be hard to handle. But for those who kept holding, it's paid off.

Beyond Meat's business grew in 2020, which is a big part of why the stock is up. Looking ahead, here are three things investors should expect from this company in 2021.

Beyond Burger is packaged at a Beyond Meat facility.

Beyond Burgers being packaged. Image source: Beyond Meat.

1. A lower price per pound

Beyond Meat hopes to have at least one plant-based product cost less than its animal-based counterpart by 2024. The company isn't targeting vegetarian consumers, because that market is small. A 2018 Gallup poll found only 5% of adults in the U.S. are vegetarians, down from 6% 20 years ago! Therefore, Beyond Meat is trying to persuade the much larger addressable market of meat eaters to eat plant-based products.

While vegetarianism isn't growing, there's progress in the plant-based category. Gallup released another poll earlier this year showing 23% of U.S. adults are eating less meat. Among those consuming less, 70% said health concerns were a major motivator. Also, 49% say that environmental concerns were a major factor. These consumers already feel compelled to give Beyond Meat a try.

Others may need to be motivated by their wallets. If Beyond Meat costs less than an animal-protein option, it seems very likely more consumers would make an occasional purchase. Therefore, pricing progress is worth monitoring. The company typically updates investors in its quarterly conference calls. In the third-quarter call, the price per pound of Beyond Burger was $5.33, down 7% year over year. For perspective, the current national average for beef patties is $4.89 per pound, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A poster showing various menu items created from Beyond Pork by Beyond Meat in China.

A poster from the recent Beyond Pork launch in China. Image source: Beyond Meat.

2. International progress

Beyond Meat entered China in 2020, despite the pandemic. It's currently building factories to get local operations going, and it's trying to build brand recognition. It recently launched Beyond Pork, a minced pork product specifically crafted for its Chinese consumer base. 

I think Beyond Pork is the perfect product to launch right now. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, only Vietnam and South Korea consume more pork per capita than China. But given its larger population, no country consumes more pounds of pork overall than China.

However, because of the ongoing swine flu in China, pork is becoming scarce and pricey. As a shareholder, I personally hope Beyond Meat can quickly ramp up production of Beyond Pork to meet this growing need.

Whether in China or elsewhere, expect Beyond Meat to make international progress in 2021.

A hamburger made with Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger.

Image source: Beyond Meat.

3. New products and partners

Large animal-protein players have broad product lineups. Therefore, Beyond Meat always looks to expand its offerings. In 2020, it launched new products like Beyond Meatballs and Beyond Breakfast Sausage, and I'd expect new items in 2021 as well. Specifically, investors can anticipate the launch of a new burger recipe, one that has less saturated fat.

Look for Beyond Meat to sign new foodservice partners in 2021 as well. Through the first three quarters of 2020, the company's global foodservice revenue is down nearly 17% year over year. In large part this is due to foodservice chains being closed for the pandemic. But new menu-item launches were also delayed. As restaurant operations normalize, expect Beyond Meat to announce new menu items and new restaurant partners, including a possible deal with McDonald's.

Fried chicken fingers sit on a plate.

Image source: Getty Images.

Bonus: A plant-based chicken announcement?

In August 2019, Beyond Meat ran a one-day test of Beyond Fried Chicken at KFC (owned by Yum! Brands). Then in January, the trial was expanded. This made me hope that Beyond Meat would start widely distributing plant-based chicken in 2020, whether at restaurants or retail outlets. That didn't happen.

Tests with Beyond Meat and KFC are ongoing; the pandemic probably hasn't given either management team as much data as it was looking for. But I remain hopeful that Beyond Meat will have a large plant-based chicken launch in some form in 2021. Here's why that excites me.

According to online publication Our World in Data, people worldwide consume more pork than anything else. But that's closely followed by poultry at 15 kilograms per capita (about 33 pounds). And poultry is still one of the fastest growing categories. Marketing data website Statista says poultry consumption is expected to grow 10% over the next decade. By launching a plant-based chicken product, Beyond Meat would be tapping a market larger than beef, and that's something to get excited about.

As you can see from these three points (and the bonus), 2021 could have a lot of exciting developments for Beyond Meat's growth story.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.