Add one more to the list of major CPGs looking to capitalize on the public’s insatiable appetite for plant-based meat. This week, Hormel Foods, who owns brands like Skippy and Applegate, announced the launch of its Happy Little Plants product line. This is Hormel’s first project under what the company’s new plant-based foods division called Cultivated Foods.
The new portfolio’s flagship product is a ground protein offering the Happy Little Plants’ website says you can cook “just like you would with ground beef or ground turkey.” The product contains 20 grams of non-GMO soy protein and is gluten-free.
Right now, Happy Little Plants products are available at select Hy-Vee stores in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconson. Further expansion is in the works, though Hormel didn’t name specific cities or timeframes.
Like most big CPGs bringing plant-based meat alternatives to market right now, Hormel is emphasizing the meat-like qualities of its meatless product. In a bid to appeal to more flexitarians — those wanting to curb meat consumption without going full vegan or vegetarian — food companies are currently creating alternatives to meat that cook, look, taste, and feel like the real thing. In other words, they’re trying to live up to the industry standard set by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Hormel is one of a growing list of CPGs launching such products. Tyson announced its Raised & Rooted brand of plant-based meat alternatives this past June. Nestle is selling meatless meat patties to QSR chains in Europe and Israel. And just yesterday, Kelloggs-owned MorningStar Farms announced its own new line of more meat-like, plant-based products called Incogmeato.
These companies have long histories in the food industry, but as The Spoon’s Catherine Lamb pointed out when reporting on the MorningStar news, that could be more hindrance than help. As evidenced by events like Beyond selling out of its meatless chicken wings in less than five hours, consumers are flocking to trendy upstart brands in the alt-meat space who can tout health and environmental benefits and don’t have a history of selling SPAM in grocery store aisles. Like Kellogg, Tyson, and others, Hormel is one more company that will have to find a way to leap the divide between its legacy products and consumer demand for new and different ways to do meatless meat.