Today Sweet Earth Foods, a U.S.-based vegetarian brand owned by Nestlé, announced it would begin selling its plant-based Awesome burgers and ground meat in retail on October 1.
The burgers will launch at a variety of retailers across the country, including Safeway, Fred Meyer, and more. I connected over the phone with Brian and Kelly Swette, the co-founders of Sweet Earth Foods, who told me that pricing will vary at each location but would be competitive with other plant-based burgers in retail: likely around $5.99 for two quarter pounders.
Nestlé launched its cook-from-raw vegan Incredible burger in Europe this April. Unlike the Incredible burger, which is soy-based, the Awesome burger is made from yellow pea protein. According the Swettes, relying on yellow pea protein gives their burger a higher nutrient density than most of their competitors: 26 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 4-ounce burger patty, to be exact. They may win the title of the most protein per plant-based burger, but the margin is slim. For context, Lightlife and Beyond’s quarter-pound burgers both have 20 grams of protein.
The Swettes told me they also have foodservice partners in the works, though they wouldn’t disclose who. Could it be that the Awesome Burger is headed to McDonald’s? After all, Nestlé’s Incredible burger is already on McDonald’s menus in Germany and Israel.
True, Micky D’s has been pretty vocal that it’s not ready to embrace faux meat on its menus yet, at least in the U.S. But if the Incredible Burger proves to be driving significant sales for McDonalds’ overseas, they could change their mind in the U.S. And since their competitors, such as Burger King and Carl’s Jr., and are already embracing Impossible and Beyond, respectively, the Awesome burger could be a logical choice — provided it actually tastes good.
The cook-from-fresh plant-based burger category is becoming more and more crowded by the day, as everyone from startups to grocery brands to Big Food debut their own take on a meatless burger. Within the past month alone, Impossible Foods, Kroger, and Hormel have all made an entrance into the refrigerated grocery aisle. But the Swette’s aren’t sweating it (sorry). “We think it’s an incredibly positive thing that the plant-based burger space is so dynamic,” Kelly Swette told me.
The Swettes believe that they can differentiate themselves from the competition because of the beefy taste and nutritional density of their burger. But I think the bigger advantage is their parent company, Nestlé. After all, being owned by one of the largest CPG companies in the world has its perks. Sweet Earth is able to take advantage of Nestlé’s massive R&D and manufacturing resources to bring their product to market quickly and on a large scale. They’ll also presumably be able to get into more grocery shelves by taking advantage of Nestlé’s preexisting retail partners. “It’s true — Nestlé will help give us an edge,” Brian Swette told me.
We’ll have to see if that edge is enough to help Sweet Earth edge out the other plant-based meat competition.