The Oklahoman

Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods now entering chicken market

- Dee-Ann Durbin

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods found success with realistic plantbased burgers. Now, they’re hoping to replicate that in the fast-growing but crowded market for plant-based chicken nuggets.

Beyond Meat said Monday that its new tenders, made from fava beans, will go on sale in U.S. groceries in October. Walmart, Jewel-Osco and Harris Teeter will be among the first to offer them.

Impossible Foods began selling its soy-based nuggets this month at Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons and other groceries. They’ll be in 10,000 stores by later this year.

The rival startups, both based in California, helped redefine what plantbased burgers could be. Beyond burgers were the first to be sold in grocery aisles next to convention­al meat in 2016; Impossible burgers joined them a few years later.

But this time, Beyond and Impossible will be stacked in freezers already bursting with plant-based chicken options. More than 50 brands of plantbased nuggets, tenders and cutlets are already on sale in U.S. stores, according to the Good Food Institute, which tracks plant-based brands.

Some, like Morningsta­r Farms and Quorn, have been making plant-based meat for decades. But Beyond and Impossible have also spawned a host of imitators making realistic products marketed to omnivores, not just vegans and vegetarian­s. Fifteen percent of those 50 brands were new to the U.S. market in 2020, like Nuggs and Daring Foods.

They’re all trying to grab a slice of the plant-based market, which is still dwarfed by the convention­al meat market but growing fast. U.S. sales of frozen, plant-based chicken tenders and nuggets jumped 29% to $112 million in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 28, according to Nielsen IQ. Sales of convention­al frozen tenders and nuggets rose 17% to $1.1 billion in the same period.

Globally, retail sales of meat substitute­s are expected to grow 2% to 4.6 million metric tons between 2021 and 2022, according to the market research firm Euromonito­r. Processed animal meat sales are expected to stay flat in the same period, at 18.9 million metric tons.

Tom Rees, an industry manager with Euromonito­r, said plant-based meat sales were already growing before the coronaviru­s hit. In Euromonito­r surveys, nearly a quarter of consumers worldwide say they are limiting meat intake for health reasons.

But the pandemic gave plant-based meat a boost as consumers looked for new things to cook at home. Rees said meat shortages and coronaviru­s outbreaks at meat production facilities also made consumers think twice about the animal meat market.

Meat or no meat, breaded nuggets aren’t exactly a health food. One serving of Beyond’s chicken tenders has 12 grams of fat, 450 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of protein and 210 calories. Impossible’s nuggets have 10 grams of fat, 320 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of protein and 200 calories. By comparison, a similar size serving of Pilgrim’s chicken nuggets contains 14 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, 460 milligrams of sodium and 220 calories.

Impossible Foods Vice President of Product Innovation Celeste HolzSchiet­inger said it was important to start with plant-based burgers because beef production is a bigger contributo­r to climate change.

 ?? BEYOND MEAT VIA AP ?? Beyond Meat’s chicken tenders contain 12 grams of fat, 450 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of protein and 210 calories per serving.
BEYOND MEAT VIA AP Beyond Meat’s chicken tenders contain 12 grams of fat, 450 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of protein and 210 calories per serving.

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