Future Food Tech Alternative Protein Summit

50/50 Foods targets flexitarians with Both Burgers featuring half beef, half veggies

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beef Water alternative proteins

50/50 Foods' Both Burgers with a 50/50 beef and veggie blend target flexitarians who love meat but want more plants, while also addressing water scarcity caused by traditional agriculture, according to CEO Drew Arentowicz at the Future Food Tech Alternative Proteins Summit in Chicago this month.

The rise of the "flexitarian" is changing the meat industry. According to data​ from Numerator, 72 million U.S. households identify as flexitarian, and are seeking ways to incorporate more plants into their diet while still enjoying meat.

This trend is fueled by a surge in plant-based curiosity, with nearly half of U.S. households already buying plant-based foods. Further, 98% of those same consumers also buy animal meat, positioning 50/50 Foods to meet consumers’ demands.

While the vegetarian and vegan population has grown between 5-7% “over the last 30 years,” Arentowicz explained that the increase has been nominal compared to the majority, around 95%, of consumers who are actively eating meat. Within that group, up to 65% are eating less meat, he said.

For 50/50, the company intends to “keep it simple” with its ingredient list, which contains USDA-certified grass-fed beef and seasoned vegetables, including roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cooked garlic and a seasoning made of sea salt, dehydrated garlic, onion, bell pepper and spice.

Each 113-gram patty is one serving size and contains 150 calories, 10 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein per serving. In contrast, a typical beef burger is between 4-6 ounces or 120-180 grams per serving, and contains between 375-560 calories.

50/50 Foods is ‘hedging against rising beef prices’

Arentowicz emphasized the company also sets itself apart by hedging “against beef prices,” which are impacted by the cost and resource output of cattle feed, particularly the water-intensive alfalfa.

“Water is the most important and critical resource that we need to protect,” he said.

He pointed out that to avoid a water shortage, “what is going to happen is they are going to cut down on alfalfa or they are going to increase the price of water,” which will increase the price of meat – which puts 50/50 ahead of the curve by “[hedging] against rising beef prices,” and maintain a competitive price due to “a margin advantage because our vegetables cost less than a pound of beef.”

50/50 Foods’ Both Burger retails at approximately $6.19 for two patties. For comparison, grass-fed beef patties can cost around $12.50 for four patties, translating to roughly $3.13 per patty.  While government beef subsidies reduce the price of meat​, it does not include the total cost which includes production and environmental impacts, among others.

According to data​ from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index for ground beef from May grew 4.9% YoY, highlighting the potentially affordable advantage of 50/50’s Both Burger.

While cultivated meat technology continues to advance, consumer acceptance is low and Arentowicz underscored the urgency of finding solutions now by “[making] it easer to lower the bar for consumer conversion [and] make it easy for people to make a change.”

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