Even though the plant-based food industry grew significantly before 2020, companies are currently met with market conditions impacted by inflation, supply chain issues and labor challenges. As a result, Kass explained that for the plant-based space to grow companies need to adapt to new market conditions and focus on cost management and profit-driven strategies relative to the size of the business.
“We're looking at our costs and making sure that we're keeping our costs down. We're focusing all of our efforts on driving revenue and growth, rather than brand building activities. How do we make sure that we are sizing our business with a growth that we want to have, and that's at the right stage so that we're not over investing, we're not under investing, but it needs to match the revenue that we're bringing in,” Kass explained.
As the market continues to fluctuate, Tindle developed its business model with flexibility to those changes. Tindle’s “asset light approach” Kass emphasized, grants the company the ability to scale and optimize efficiency.
“That means, in house, we don’t have a lot of overhead and we can scale up or down as needed with market demands,” she said.
Although an asset light approach serves as a flexible strategy to navigate an uncertain market, companies are still facing challenges, particularly surrounding scalability and investments; as well as establishing co-manufacturers to partner with that are close to brands’ distribution targets. Kass believes that manufacturing, supply chain and ingredient scalability like the meat industry will allow the plant-based scene and the brand itself to hit its next phase of growth.
“We’re not there yet,” Kass opined. “We have to get through this period before we really see a lot more investment in the space. Specifically on the scalability side. If you have a business, even if it’s asset light, spread across the world and shipping across the world, it’s a challenge.”
Kass explained that the goal is to create plant-based products that are indistinguishable from animal products in terms of taste, texture, and cost. The industry is witnessing advancements in technologies like cell-based and precision fermentation that are “happening really fast and we're developing better and better products with the technologies we have today.”
Targeting flexitarians and meat eaters looking for meat alternatives
According to a report by Good Food Institute, the US plant-based industry was worth $7 billion in 2020 and plant-based meat retail sales grew 45% to $1.4 billion in the same period—emphasizing the need for brands to differentiate themselves in a saturated market through product innovation, ingredients, transparency, packaging and story telling, among others.
Kass explained Tindle aims to distinguish itself through its soy-based product offerings that target flexitarians and meat eaters. Most recently the brand launched its Tindle True Cut using whole muscle technology from its in-house R&D team, recreating the texture and experience of eating chicken.
“We do believe that our product really stands out specifically for the flexitarian and meat eater audience. It's a shift at least within the chicken space for Tindle,” she added.
Meal kits inspired by chefs and the culinary scene
Paying homage to Tindle’s chef-founded roots, the brand focused on differentiating in the US by partnering with chefs and the culinary scene to inform its burgeoning retail and product strategy, Kass explained. The brand released its meal kits on Gold Belly in collaboration with Chef Chad Rosenthal who includes his line of sauces and sides, familiarizing consumers with Tindle’s versatility and meal prep instructions.
“We’re trying to lean into being in the hip cultural centers and having this culinary angle. We think consumers recognize that and look to Chefs for guidance and advice on what they eat,”
Tindle’s portfolio of plant-based meat include its boneless wings and its breaded line of nuggets, tenders, and popcorn chicken; as well as un-breaded chicken pieces ideal for salads and wraps in flavors like Mediterranean and barbecue.
The company also debuted its new plant-based breakfast sausages during the National Restaurant Association, which was Tindle’s first product produced in North America.