NUGGS, a startup that delivers plant-based chicken nuggets directly to consumers’ doorsteps, announced today via an emailed press release that it will launch in retail this spring.
Founded in 2019, NUGGS makes meatless “chicken” nuggets out of pea protein. The company started delivering the nuggets directly to consumers last July in the U.S. In addition to this D2C model, NUGGS has said it will create new iterations of its product based on consumer feedback (the company claims to be on version 2.0 right now). NUGGS will begin selling the nuggets at 10,000 retailers through CPG distribution agencies Acosta and Green Spoon. Exactly which retailers will carry NUGGS was not disclosed in the emailed release.
Said release came from McCain Foods, the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, which has also invested $7 million in NUGGS. The affiliation makes sense since NUGGS will debut in the frozen section of the grocery store, where it’ll have some competition from alt-meat stalwarts like Morningstar and Quorn. It’ll also face off against Tyson’s Raised & Rooted line of plant-based nuggets, though those have egg in them so they aren’t technically vegan.
A 10.4 ounce box of plant-based nuggets will retail for $5.99. That’s slighly pricier than a similarly sized offering from Morningstar, but significantly cheaper than Quorn. The NUGGS price tag is also in line with Tyson’s Raised & Rooted nuggets, which cost a whopping $6 for a bag of nine.
Retail has always been in the gameplan for NUGGS, which also expects to branch into foodservice. That’s where the company could actually face more competition: KFC is rapidly expanding its tests of the new-and-improved Beyond Fried Chicken, startup Rebellyous is selling its plant-based nuggets at cafeterias, and just a few months ago Scottish startup Daring Foods inked a deal with Rastelli Foods Group to start selling its meatless chicken pieces to both restaurants and retailers.
When I first wrote about NUGGS last year, I was skeptical that their young team would be able to compete in the white-hot alternative protein space, especially when faced with the challenges of scaling and mounting competition in plant-based chicken. This retail launch will be the first real test to see if I was right.