The cholesterol-free PB triple play - claimed to be higher in fiber and lower in fat and saturated fat than a regular cheeseburger - features plant-based bacon made from soy (rather than wheat gluten - the core ingredient in the 'benevolent bacon' product from Nestlé's Sweet Earth brand in the US).
The plant-based cheese is made with a combination of fibers, oils, yeast, soy protein, and natural flavors and colors, and is designed to deliver a "familiar, cravable rich taste" and the melting characteristics of dairy cheese, Fleur Veldhoven, VP Marketing of Food at Nestlé Professional, told FoodNavigator-USA.
"The vegan bacon alternative becomes crispy and chewy when cooked, and performs like animal bacon in the kitchen," added Veldhoven, who said Nestlé's chefs and food scientists had tailored the products for use in professional kitchens, taking into account specific cooking and serving requirements.
'It all comes down to flavor, texture and juiciness'
While even a couple of years ago, restaurants with limited menus were wary of including plant-based items given that every product must carry its weight, the arrival of Impossible Burgers at Burger King and Beyond Burgers at McDonald's (in a test market in Canada) indicates how quickly things have changed, she acknowledged.
"We are seeing a very large growth in the plant-based alternative space in the out of home [market], and we're seeing a need for a more complete solution [beyond just burgers]."
Asked about the primary and secondary purchase drivers for plant-based products in foodservice, she said: "Plant-based with protein is the key message [with health, sustainability, and animal welfare as secondary purchase drivers]."
But as with any burger, what ultimately matters the most is deliciousness, she said: "It all comes down to flavor, texture and juiciness."
What does 'plant-forward' eating mean?
So what's next for the plant-based trend?
Right now, much of the attention is on making the 'meatiest' meat alternatives, said Veldhoven, but that will change: "If you look at the product range of Sweet Earth in the US and Garden Gourmet in Europe, it goes way beyond what most other providers offer in this space.
"We're seeing a trend towards blended, plant-forward options, and it can be anything from meat-centric to veggie-centric, really celebrating vegetables, and we will absolutely play in all of those spaces."
Nestlé’s new ‘cook from raw’ plant-based Awesome Burger (which has just launched under the Sweet Earth brand in retail and foodservice) has similar levels of sodium and saturated fat to the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, but has significantly more protein and fiber, say Sweet Earth founders Brian and Kelly Swette.
Each 4oz Awesome Burger - which contains textured pea protein, vital wheat gluten, coconut oil, and canola oil – contains 26g protein (vs 19g/20g for Impossible/Beyond), 6g fiber (vs 3g for Impossible/Beyond), 7g saturated fat (vs 8g/5g for Impossible/Beyond), and 400mg of sodium (vs 370-380mg for Impossible/Beyond).