Photo: MorningStar Farms

Alternative meat giant MorningStar Farms seems to be taking a burger — er, page — from Beyond Meat. Today, the Kelloggs-owned company announced Incogmeato, its new line of plant-based meat products which are meant to look, taste, and cook more like the real thing.

The Incogmeato portfolio (are we sold on that name?) includes a refrigerated plant-based “beef” burger as well as meatless Chik’n tenders and nuggets. In grocery stores the burgers will be sold in the refrigerated section, a first for MorningStar Farms, while the Chik’n will live in the freezer section. All products are made with non-GMO soy.

The Incogmeato line will be available both in retail and foodservice in early 2020. Pricing details have not yet been disclosed.

MorningStar Farms has been in the meat alternative biz for over 40 years, which makes it a grandfather in the plant-based meat space. For most of that time, the company has peacefully cruised along with its frozen veggie patties and chicken strips for vegetarians. But now thanks to Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods’ sudden and much-publicized moves into the alt-meat space, consumers’ former notions about what plant-based meat could look like and taste like have changed.

MorningStar Farms isn’t the only alterna-meat veteran seeking to capitalize on the recent craze around plant-based burgers, chicken, and more. Tofurky, Lightlife, Boca Burgers and others, which have traditionally made meat substitutes specifically geared towards vegetarians, are releasing new, more realistic “meat” products to draw in flexitarian diners — with mixed results.

While these companies have the advantage of name recognition, retail relationships and robust manufacturing, their relative seniority could also hinder them. Flexitarian consumers looking to try this popular “bleeding” plant-based that’s getting so much media attention might skip over brands like MorningStar Farms, which they associate with less-than-stellar first-generation meat alternatives, and go straight for newcomers like Beyond and Impossible. Which is probably why the Incogmeato branding looks completely different from traditional MorningStar Farms products.

With its new Incogmeato line, MorningStar Farms is clearly trying to show that it, too, can be part of the new wave of meaty meat alternatives. But when it comes to plant-based meat, can an old dog learn new tricks? Come 2020, we’ll have to taste and find out for ourselves.

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