“It’s beyond impossible, it’s awesome,” Sweet Earth CEO unveils new plant-based burger
26 Sep 2019 --- US vegetarian food innovator, Sweet Earth, which is owned by Nestlé, has unveiled the “Awesome Burger,” a plant-based offering that signals its latest move in the meat-free market and competes with rival products from the likes of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Nestlé offers Sweet Earth the infrastructure to produce enough burgers to meet the surge in consumer demand, with an industry that is predicted to grow tenfold over the next decade. Also debuting is Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds, which provide the same plant-based protein in a ground version that allows greater flexibility to cook meals and sides, such as meatballs and tacos.
In an in-depth interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Kelly Swette, CEO and Co-founder of Sweet Earth, explains how the Awesome Burger was created in a kitchen, not a lab, with a focus on achieving “awesome flavor and nutrition in wholesome ways.”
“We believe plant-based burgers are inherently healthier because they are made from non-GMO plants and ours addresses areas of nutritional deficiency like fiber and potassium,” she says. “Only 3 percent of Americans get adequate fiber in their diets and meat doesn’t have any – the Awesome Burger has six grams of fiber in addition to 26 grams of protein. People eating plant-based foods don’t have to compromise on flavor while trying to eat healthier.”
The Awesome Burger also uses yellow pea protein, a protein-packed alternative to meat. Pea protein is easy to digest and promotes heart health and feelings of fullness. It is growing as a popular option in the US since it is more sustainable than meat, and the Awesome Burger pea protein is being sourced from farmers in the US to keep as local a footprint as possible.
“Despite the launches of other plant-based burgers, we think it’s still early and the plant-based segment continues to gain momentum. We were intent on getting the Awesome Burger to culinary perfection – the nutritious ingredients, satisfying texture, and juicy, delicious taste are something we wanted to get right, even if it meant we weren’t the first on the market,” Swette continues.
Nestlé’s plant-based focus
Acquired by Nestlé USA in 2017, Sweet Earth has over 60 plant-based products in its portfolio. Nestlé similarly has a history in plant-based foods that stretches back 30 years, through its Garden Gourmet brand (previously Tivall) in Europe, most recently launching its Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger, which was developed for European markets and has natural protein from soy and wheat.
The Swiss food giant’s new products demonstrate a sharpened focus toward high-growth categories and show how the long-established company is pivoting the business to shifting market conditions that encapsulate healthy and nutritional food.
A growing number of consumers recognize that less meat in their diet is good for them and the planet, but some plant-based meat alternatives often do not live up to their expectations.
The Sweet Earth team are “stories experts in plant-based meat,” says Swette, having worked for the last eight years to create tasty and nutritious plant-based proteins such as award-winning Benevolent Bacon and Harmless Ham.
“We have produced 13,000 pounds of plant-based protein a day and counting, with over 60 products in our portfolio,” Swette adds. “The non-GMO Awesome Burger and Grounds are a natural evolution of our other plant-based meat products. The development of the Awesome Burger advances our mission by delivering on the craveable taste, texture and aroma of beef with the environmental and nutritional benefits offered by plant-based proteins, and a win for animal conscious consumers.”
What’s coming next?
Plant-based NPD is booming with a multitude of market opportunities to come. The latest consumer research conducted by Innova Market Insights shows that almost 10 percent of Americans claim they always buy meat alternatives, while a further 36 percent claim to do so often or sometimes.
Sweet Earth is currently working on many other plant-based meat and product innovations, notes Swette. “Our goal is to re-envision plant-based meats as craveable and accessible, so people are empowered to make positive changes within their diet.”
“Our next innovation will be Sweet Earth’s Vegan Butcher, a line of plant-based deli meats, which will bring delicious plant-based versions of consumers’ favorite raw meat products to traditional deli/food service, in addition to the pre-pack section. This will be launching in spring/summer of 2020.”
By Gaynor Selby
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