- Misfit Foods, established in 2014 with a focus of creating juice from imperfect produce, has pivoted to sell sausages made from a blend of plants and chicken, according to NOSH.
- The sausages launched last month on Fresh Direct's on-demand food arm FoodKick and in Fairway Markets. The chicken-vegetable sausages come in 12-oz packs in three flavors: Kale Citrus Chimichurri, Sweet Potato Andouille and Squash Sweet Italian.
- Co-founder Phil Wong told NOSH producing meat products with recipes reducing the overall quantity of meat consumed by customers aligns with the company's ethos to find unique ways to solve problems within the food system.
What do juices made from imperfect produce and 50/50 chicken and vegetable sausages have in common? According to the co-founder of Misfit Foods, the answer is the potential to help the world. Misfit Foods began with the intention of disrupting the food industry to make a positive impact on the environment, and this latest turn toward the meat sector is both an attempt to reach a bigger market and also have a larger impact on the planet.
Upcycling food waste, which was what Misfit did with its juices, is a booming business worth $46.7 billion in 2019, with an expected CAGR of 5% for the next 10 years, according to Future Marketing Insights. But plant-based meat presents an even bigger category, with sales expected to reach $85 billion by 2030, according to UBS. And unlike cold-pressed juices, which have complexities in format and productions, making blended sausage is a more straightforward path for the company.
Couple the demand for meat with a growing interest for plant-based alternatives — where sales climbed 42% between March 2016 and March 2019, according to Nielsen data — and Misfit Foods is positioning itself well between the two categories.
It is not, however, the only company to do so.
Tyson Foods will soon roll out its Raised & Rooted line of blended burgers made with Angus beef and pea protein isolate. Perdue is launching new chicken nuggets, tenders and patties blended with vegetables. Many other companies are unveiling entirely plant-based meat-like proteins. Misfit Foods will encounter even more competition from big names like Nestlé, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which sells a plant-based sausage.
Still, Misfit Foods could remain mostly outside the fray as the founders have chosen to pursue sausages rather than the ubiquitous burger patty on which many companies seem to be focusing. And the sausage category is growing. According to figures from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, last year, Americans bought 1.1 billion pounds of dinner sausages, spending more than $3.72 billion — a 1.4% increase over 2017.
Furthermore, unlike these companies with household names, Misfit Foods has the advantage of a smaller scale. This will make it more easily adaptable to consumer demands and able to modify its recipe in real time to find a taste profile that resonates with hungry Americans.
Already, the company is differentiating its product by focusing on creating links from 50% humanely-raised, antibiotic-and-hormone-free chicken and 50% vegetables. This positioning could be advantageous for consumers who are looking to cut down on their overall consumption of meat, but unwilling to give it up entirely. It also features chicken meat, the consumption of which hit record highs in 2018.
Misfit Foods is not the only company to pivot from its initial product offering. Other companies have done so with success. Tostitos branched out from tortilla chips to offer cheese dip and salsa. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups took their signature flavors and reformulated them into a breakfast cereal, Reese’s Puffs. On the other hand, being a bestseller is not guaranteed. The Pur Company, best known for aspartame-free mints and candy, got into snack foods with the launch of Pur Popcorn.
So while there is no guarantee for success, Misfit Foods is hedging its bets by jumping into the deep end into one of the fastest growing segments in the food space. It likely won't take long for the company to determine whether it made the right choice.