The Wall Street Journal reports that Beyond Meat, a purveyor of meat-free burgers and sausages, has signed up fast-food chains McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizzahut. Beyond Meat and competitor Impossible Foods are disrupting the food business, with realistic looking fake meats that even bleed like real beef.
- Market Dimensions – D.C.-based alternative protein research nonprofit, Good Food Institute, reports that the U.S. plant-based foods market generated $7 billion in retail sales in 2020, up from $5.5 billion in 2019, a pace that’s nearly twice as fast as total food sales. The $1.4 billion plant-based meat category grew 45% in 2020, three times as quickly as its animal-based counterpart.
- Beyond Meat – Founded in 2009, Beyond Meat creates its plant-based burgers and sausages with five main ingredients: yellow pea protein isolate, canola oil, potato starch, refined coconut oil, and water. These are said to provide the protein, heft, and moisture/juiciness of a real burger. In addition, they contain minimal amounts of other ingredients, including potato starch, natural flavor, yeast extract, and beet juice extract. Tasting Table reports that “when our editorial team tried the final product, the kitchen fell silent. Nobody could believe how good it was. The texture may have been a little soft, but overall, everyone was seriously impressed.”
- Impossible Burger – The Impossible Burger consists of wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and leghemoglobin, a genetically engineered derivative of soy that resembles heme. Heme, the molecule that carries iron in plants and animals, is responsible for the color, texture, and taste of meat. CookingLight found the Impossible Burger was “virtually flavorless, and though the texture was pretty close to meat, the flavor didn’t even compare.”
- Don Lee Farms – Another entry, Don Lee Farms Plant-Based Burger, made with pea protein, soy, oats, flaxseed, coconut oil, also wouldn’t trick anyone. CookingLight staffers rated it an average of three out of 10 in the categories of tasting like meat, looking like meat, and having a texture resembling meat. But if you want a delicious veggie burger, Don Lee Farms earned an eight out of 10 in the category of “would eat again.”
- Faux fish – The food mimicry business has attracted a stampede of non-meat players, including Good Catch and Sophie’s Kitchen, which offer “fish-free tuna” and “breaded vegan shrimp” that is “100% meat & seafood free.”
Despite all the interest in vegetarian food substitutes, the most recent Gallup poll reports that only 5% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarian or vegan. Even if you add consumers who are open to “flexitarian” diets, it still might only constitute about 10-15% of the market.