New Plant-Based Protein Options Needed to Capture the Meat-Lovers Market

When Burger King launched its Impossible Whopper nationwide in collaboration with Impossible Foods back in the summer of 2019, it marked the beginning of wave of efforts from restaurant chains and CPG manufacturers to court the shopping dollar of vegans, vegetarians, and part-time vegetarians known as "flexitarians". But now two years later, the market is seeking the approval of meat-lovers as well—not just the veggie-inclined. Today, vegan meat is appearing on menus 1,320% more than since the global health crisis began. Burger King is not the only Restaurant Brands International Inc. restaurant to have plant-based meat menu options, thanks to the efforts of food manufacturers such as food giants Tyson Foods, Inc., Kellogg Company, and Hormel Foods Corporation, as well as newly-public Nepra Foods.

Through a growing proprietary portfolio of mostly hemp-protein-based products and production techniques, members of the team that grew and sold Udi's Gluten Free Foods to what is now Conagra Brands for US$125 million back in 2012 are back again with their latest public venture, Nepra Foods, which just recently completed its IPO.

With the innovative new team assembled, Nepra has compiled decades of experience in new food product development and marketing. Now with the launch, the company hits the ground running in order to help several national brands through a B2B service that aids in taking products from concept to market with new ingredients and technical know-how, as well as a consumer product division with a growing number of popular dishes and snacks for retail.

Through several hemp-based protein products and a proprietary ingredient called THPTM (Textured Hemp Protein), Nepra already is established with a network of supply chain management and distribution around the world for its products, of which all are Non-Soy, Non-GMO, Allergen-Free and Gluten-Free.

The company's multicategory, plant-based foods offerings include frozen meals, plant-based dairy, salty snacks, and meat alternatives that are high in protein and fiber, lower in carbohydrates, and are truly nutritious.

In particular, the decision to run with hemp-based protein stems from the plant's unique ability to provide balanced nutrition, favorable textures, and take on the desired flavors of the manufacturers.

The quality of ingredients in menu items is becoming increasingly important, as Restaurant Brands International Inc. recently announced it would be permanently banning 120 artificial ingredients and counting from its Burger King ® US food menus.

"We know our guests' expectations are changing, and they want to make choices they can feel good about," said Ellie Doty, Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King North America. "By banning these 120 ingredients from our food, we're offering guests an easy choice – delicious food made with quality ingredients. We're confident that our ongoing commitment to real food will not only provide guests with the food they're looking for, but also set a standard for the industry overall."

Back in June, Tyson Foods, Inc. launched its latest line of Plant Based Bits under its Raised & Rooted™ brand. The snackable bites were designed to meet the growing demand and desire for plant-based products made with 100% plant-based protein, have 8g of protein per serving, 3g of fiber, and have 33% less saturated fat than USDA white meat chicken nuggets.

"Our new plant-based bites deliver the taste that will wow taste-buds in a better-for-you alternative," said David Ervin, Vice President of Marketing, Raised & Rooted. "We are excited to continue to grow our offerings and provide people with the alternative protein options they seek for meal or snack-time with beloved flavors."

When it comes to snacking, Kellogg Company is at the forefront of trying to capture the football fan market. Its MorningStar Farms line recently launched its Plant-Based Playbook for Football Season Snacking.

"No one can deliver on fans' football cravings like MorningStar Farms because we have the biggest and best line-up of plant-based appetizers," said Heidi Ray, Marketing Director, Plant-Based Protein Category of Kellogg Company. "We want to celebrate the many ways fans are serving up their favorite game day dishes and there's no better partner to help us rally the plant-based community than Tahj Mowry."

MorningStar Farms also signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers and Levi's® Stadium to run its Incogmeato® line for with a new menu of next-generation plant-based protein that "looks, cooks and tastes just like the real thing".

"We are always looking for ways to bring our fans, our community and a premium food experience, together," said Kevin Hilton, 49ers Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. "That's why, partnering with Incogmeato® and MorningStar Farms® is a touchdown for not only our fans craving a delicious alternative to meat, but for those facing food insecurities in our region."

For pizzerias and restauranteurs looking to add plant-based pepperoni toppings to their menus, Hormel Foods Corporation launched its Happy Little Plants® pepperoni style topping. Already the makers of "America's No.1 selling pepperoni", Hormel launched the new line in an effort to impress both plant-lovers and pork enthusiasts.

"Our team worked closely with pizzerias, chefs, foodservice operators and pizza experts to develop a plant-based pepperoni style topping that cooks and tastes exactly like traditional pepperoni," said Anthony Panichelli, foodservice pizza toppings brand manager at Hormel Foods. "Chefs and restaurateurs are very aware of today's dynamic food landscape and consumers' desire to add more plant-based foods to their diets. The new Happy Little Plants® brand pepperoni style topping was developed with foodservice operators to ensure pizzeria-level taste, convenience and quality, so much so, that many people may have a hard time tasting the difference between Happy Little Plants® brand pepperoni style topping and traditional pepperoni."

Source: USA News Group via Foodmarket newsletter (Urner Barry) (21/09/2021)

Photo : Rolande PG (