Incogmeato by MorningStar Farms aims to appeal to omnivores looking to add more plant-based foods … [+]
Kellogg’s plant-based MorningStar Farm line unveiled three new meat-like products this week that will roll out to grocery store meat cases in time for grilling season – and avid grillers are a key part of the demographic the brand aims to attract.
The new Incogmeato by MorningStar Farms burgers, Italian sausages and bratwursts are vegan products, and the brand already has a strong following of vegetarians, but that’s not the group it expects to capture this time around, Sara Young, MorningStar Farms’ general manager for plant-based protein, said.
“There’s a loyal vegetarian and vegan consumer that loves MorningStar Farms’ wide portfolio [of options for] breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she said. But there’s also a significant portion of the wider population that would eat more plant-based foods if they could figure out ways that work with their lifestyles.
Unlike the brand’s familiar black bean burgers, vegetarian breakfast sausages, soy-based chicken nuggets and other plant-based products, the Incogmeato line more closely replicates traditional meat.
“It’s designed to delight the flexitarian consumer who is seeking a more meatlike experience,” Young said.
MorningStar Farms has been a growth area for Kellogg’s as demand for plant-based offerings has grown, and the line grew market share and experienced double-digit growth in the most recent quarter, according to an earnings announcement. Sales grew after the company unveiled plans to convert all of its vegetarian items to vegan by the end of 2021, a move that will remove about 300 million egg whites from the supply chain.
The new Incogmeato products are made with non-GMO soy and boast 20 grams of protein, similar to traditional beef burgers. They were developed with a focus on replicating the taste, texture and overall cooking experience of traditional meat, down to the sizzling sound it makes when it hits the griddle and the way it sears while cooking, she said.
New research out this week indicates that a significant number of omnivorous consumers are seeking just such products, to help them get more plant foods into their diets without having to make big changes or learn to prepare unfamiliar dishes, and it’s a group food companies of all sizes are courting with new products.
The Incogmeato line brings the familiar MorningStar Farms brand to an increasingly crowded field. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods pioneered the meat-like plant-based segment, and other companies including Lightlife, Tofurky and Nestle-owned Sweet Earth have launched their own products, all of them seeking to woo flexitarians.
But it’s also an area where demand is expected to continue growing rapidly.
Only about 4% of U.S. consumers call themselves vegetarian or vegan, but 94% report being willing to eat more fruits and vegetables and 62% call themselves “very willing,” according to a new survey from Yale and the Earth Day Network.
More importantly, 54% said they’re willing to eat less red meat and 55% said they would eat more plant-based meat alternatives.
Half of respondents also reported that the reason they didn’t eat more plant-based products is because they’re not sure what foods to buy or how to cook them. Those hurdles can come down when plant-based items like Incogmeato so closely replicate familiar products, and they’re further removed when grocers stock the products next to meat.
Incogmeato burgers and sausages will be merchandised alongside meat in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores including Kroger, Meijer, Albertsons and Weiss.
“We do believe the category is in its infancy and there’s a tremendous opportunity to build on that,” Young said.