Hormel-owned Applegate will begin selling Well Carved, its frozen line of blended meat and vegetable products, in grocery stores this month, according to IngredientsNetwork. Well Carved includes hybrid beef and turkey burgers mixed with beans and vegetables, as well as blended meatballs. The new offerings feature a garden-full of plants lentils, cauliflower, spinach, parsley, and kale.
The Well Carved line was meant to debut at the Natural Products Expo West in March, but like every other event, it was postponed in response to COVID-19. Applegate decided to push the launch back to April and do it with retailers — though it hasn’t yet specified which ones, how many, or in which areas.
Applegate was actually the first Big Meat brand to venture into blended products. It launched The Great Organic Blend Burger, made from a mixture of beef and mushrooms, a year ago. That puts it well ahead of Tyson, which debuted its Raised & Rooted line of blended beef burgers and plant-based chicken nuggets in June. Soon after, chicken giant Perdue also released a line of hybrid chicken nuggets, made with plant-based protein from Better Meat Co.
Pricing may be a hurdle for Applegate. A four-pack of Well Carved burgers goes for $9.99, which is almost twice the price of a four-pack of organic beef burgers at some supermarkets. In fact, it’s almost on par with the price of Beyond Beef burgers. I’m wondering if people looking to cut their meat consumption will actually purchase a blended burger when, for roughly the same cost, they can just buy a delicious plant-based substitute?
Two things could work in Hormel’s favor, though. One, the Well Carved burgers are frozen. And in a time when people are stocking up on frozen food like nobody’s business to avoid grocery runs, that’s a good thing. Well Carved burgers also position themselves as clean label and wholesome — that is, they contain only vegetables and meat. Some critics don’t like that plant-based meat like Beyond and Impossible contains a litany of ingredients and is processed. That could spur flexitarian consumers looking to cut their meat consumption to give Well Carved a try.
It’s a prime time to drop a new alt-meat product in retail. With COVID-19 spurring sharp increases in grocery sales for both meat and plant-based meat, this is a prime time to experiment and see if blended burgers can actually make it in the market.