About half of consumers say they want to incorporate more plants into their diets, which is a “significant shift,” but that doesn’t mean they are abandoning meat, Applegate President John Ghingo told FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show last month.
“There is a very small percentage who are vegetarians or vegans – low single-digits numbers – so there is a big space of consumers who are interested in having more plants and vegetables, but who are still consuming animal-based products, including meat,” he said. “As a company, we are working on finding solutions for those people.”
Among these solutions is the company’s new Great Organic Blend Burger, which is a blend of either beef or turkey and mushrooms, the addition of which Ghingo said, is “adding flavor... we are adding juiciness, and actually creating a great product experience … that consumers are going to love as a real burger.”
In addition to adding flavor, the mushrooms also lighten the burger’s nutritional profile, Ghingo said.
“For example, our beef burger has 35% less calories and 45% less fat than a traditional beef burger, and our organic turkey blend burger has 50% less calories and 75% less fat than a traditional beef burger – so big improvements in terms of the nutritional profile, but with really no compromise on taste, flavor and juiciness. So, it really is a win-win for those consumers who are looking to scale back their meat, but want to still have the meat experience."
Even while Applegate is adding plants to some of its products, Ghingo says that most consumers still crave animal protein – but just not any protein will do.
“Consumers who are eating meat are also thinking about what meat they are eating. We like to call our consumers conscious carnivores. So, they are thinking about what meat they eat and the amount of meat they eat and all of that is factoring into their decisions,” he said.
As such, they are thinking about three ‘C’s – clean, craveable and convenient – all of which Applegate is trying to deliver in its new lineup – The New Food Collective.
“The New Food Collective is our first foray into working with local farmers who are committed to regenerative agriculture practices and we have been working with small farms across Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri,” to create small-batch, high culinary sausage from pasture raised pork, he said.
The line includes four options: Hot Italian, Sweet Italian, a breakfast sausage and Ginger Scallion.
Also when it comes to convenience, Applegate is launching a line of Stackables – a line of meat and cheese snacks that Ghingo says are perfect for after school or as a mini-meal during the day.
Looking forward, Ghingo said, Applegate will continue to innovate products that meet the three ‘C’s but that also don’t compromise on other values, such Applegate’s high animal welfare standards and a simple ingredient list.
“We don’t compromise on the other areas we are committed to,” he said.