What happened

Beyond Meat (BYND 3.03%) shareholders lost ground to a slumping market on Wednesday as the stock fell 9% by 1:45 p.m. ET compared to a 1.3% drop in the S&P 500.

The drop reflected more worries on the part of investors about the plant-based meat specialist's growth and earnings prospects.

Young friends eating burgers together.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

A new survey conducted by investment firm Piper Sandler painted a gloomy picture for Beyond Meat's sales opportunity. The teen demographic is losing interest in meat substitute products compared to last year, the survey found, and consumers don't have much of a brand preference within the category.

These factors together suggest that Beyond Meat may struggle to stabilize its business following a growth hangover that began in late 2021. The company is aiming to grow market share in a quickly expanding industry over the next several years.

Now what

Beyond Meat's last earnings report revealed slumping demand at supermarket and big-box retailers for its plant-based burgers and chicken products. At the time, CEO Ethan Brown predicted that this slowdown was more of an aberration than a new normal for the industry. Beyond Meat executives believe demand trends will pick up again as new products hit the market in 2022 and as consumers become willing to try new tastes again.

The survey results suggest that this shift might take longer than expected. But investors will have to wait until the packaged food specialist's next earnings report, in early May, to find out if Beyond Meat is winning over more consumers again following a tough six months for the plant-based meat industry niche.

That announcement should set the tone for the stock's broader 2022, considering all the uncertainty around its growth prospects.