"Burgers are the gateway to meat alternatives. For 70% of consumers, burgers is their introduction to the category. With that in mind, we wanted to make sure our burger was a true standout, and we think with the arrival of the Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Burger we have an offering that looks, cooks, smells, and tastes like real meat," Tara Rozalowsky, VP/GM for Gardein, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Plant protein change
The new Ultimate Plant-Based Burger, which replaces the firm's Ultimate Beefless Burger, is made from pea, rather than soy protein, and sits in the frozen burger category, a $1.1bn category.
"Our team worked very hard on the ingredient mix to mirror the aroma, taste and texture of real beef as closely as possible. And our burgers are designed to satisfy; they’re 1/4 pound patties with 19 g of protein per serving," said Rozalowsky. Each plant-based patty contains 240 calories, 10g of saturated fat, and 450 mg of sodium.
While having a pea protein0based burger is "going to be appealing to many consumers," she said, the brand isn't making a stance one way or another on soy vs. pea protein (Gardein uses soy protein in several of its other products including its seven grain crispy tenders and regular veggie burger products).
As Bob Nolan, senior vice president of insights & analytics at brand owner Conagra Brands previously told this publication, “We went out and mined a lot of social media data and only about 1% of the discussions of soy were negative and it was about the disruption of hormones and things like that, but we think that there will be demand for both soy and pea protein."
'Our consumer base goes well beyond vegetarians and vegans'
Rozalowsky added that while it has built a loyal following with vegans and vegetarians over the years, its target consumer is the flexitarian who is trying to swap out meat with more plant-based alternatives.
"We’re proud of our vegan credentials, but our consumer base goes well beyond vegetarians and vegans. The concept of “flexitarian” is much more prominent now than it was just a few years ago, and the meat-alternatives category is popular among this growing demographic," she said.
A six-pack of the Ultimate Plant-Based Burger will be available for a SRP of $12.99, while a two-pack will be sold for $4.49. The plant-based burgers will be sold in the freezer sections of grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide.