Alternative protein company Lightlife announced yesterday the release of a new plant-based burger that, according to a press release, is meant to deliver “the sensory experience consumers crave from a beef burger.”

The so-called Lightlife Burger is made of pea protein, coconut oil, and beet powder. It has 20g of protein, no cholesterol, and is free from soy, gluten and GMOs. The burger will be the face of a new pea protein-based product line from the company, which meant to be more evocative of meat.

The launch is in tandem with Lightlife’s upcoming rebrand to mark its 40th anniversary. It’s also just a smart move on Lightlife’s part to try and compete with other meat-like burgers on the market, like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — especially as Beyond prepares for an IPO and Impossible gears up for its retail launch. Composition-wise, the Lightlife Burger seems closer to the Beyond Burger, which is also pea protein-based and also uses beets for its “bloody” look.

But young upstarts like Beyond and Impossible aren’t Lightlife’s only competitors. Big Food has also been getting into the meat alternative space, releasing products that are more meat-like to capture flexitarians and cash in on the plant-based eating trend. Last month Nestlé released the Impossible  Incredible Burger, just a few days after Unilever bought Dutch plant-based meat company The Vegetarian Butcher.

Lightlife could have an advantage, though. Both it and Field Roast are owned by Maple Leaf Foods, a major packaged meat company in Canada. That means that the company has the advantages that come with being part of a Big Food company, including supply chains, sales channels, and retail partners. But, since it’s also a veteran in the meat alternative space, it also has more plant-based street cred than, say, Nestlé. This could lead to less blowback from consumers who don’t trust Big Food to make their vegan meats.

Recently I predicted that veteran plant-based protein companies, like Lightlife, Tofurky, and Boca, would rebrand from “vegan” companies to “meat” companies–just ones who happened to make meat out of plants. It seems that, at least in the case of Lightlife, that prediction is coming true.

In the U.S., the Lightlife Burger will start rolling out in foodservice this month and hit grocery shelves in late March. It will launch in Canada in April. I couldn’t find any information about pricing, but I imagine it will be in line with other Lightlife vegan burgers (around $2.50 per patty). We haven’t tasted the Lightlife Burger yet, but as soon as it’s available in Seattle grocery shelves it might be time for an alterna-meat burger cookoff.

Leave a Reply