- Kellogg's MorningStar Farms is launching a new line of plant-based meat called Incogmeato. The new products include the company's first ready-to-cook plant-based burger as well as plant-based Chik'n tenders and nuggets.
- The products, which use non-GMO soy, will hit grocery stores in early 2020. The 4-ounce plant-based patties will be sold in the refrigerated meat case, while the Chik'n tenders and nuggets will be sold frozen.
- Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane told Bloomberg that the burgers will "bleed on the grill."
Kellogg's MorningStar Farms may have been one of the original companies in the meat substitute space, but with this new plant-based ready-to-cook burger, the brand will be playing catch up to some heavy hitters.
The Incogmeato burger will be competing with other realistic alternatives from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which have gained fame from their bleeding characteristics. Additionally, more big name companies are getting into the game with Nestlé planning to introduce the plant-based Awesome Burger this fall under its Sweet Earth Brand, Tyson Foods unveiling its Raised & Rooted plant-based products, and Hormel announcing the launch of its plant-based products the same day as MorningStar.
The Incogmeato burger and nuggets will be made with soy, which is similar to the Impossible Burger and Incredible Burger. Although using soy could improve the taste and texture of the product, it could face challenges from consumers looking to avoid the ingredient — a top allergen — who may prefer pea protein alternatives like the Beyond Burger.
As more brands get in the game, investments in the space increase and more people are showing an interest in plant-based foods, it makes sense for MorningStar Farms to try to gain back some market share that it has lost to these players.
MorningStar Farms, which has been around for more than 40 years, is still the top seller of veggie burgers, according to data from Euromonitor data cited by Bloomberg. However, as other players rise up in the space, the brand's market share plummeted to 16.9% last year from 33.3% in 2013.
Kellogg's experience in the plant-based category will likely help it face intense competition. About 20 years ago, Kellogg acquired the legacy veggie protein brand for $307 million. Since then, the company has grown the unit with new product launches. Earlier this year, the company announced a new vegan "Cheezeburger" and committed to becoming 100% plant-based by 2021. MorningStar Farms offers a variety of other plant-based products, including veggie sausage patties, chorizo crumbles, nuggets, corn dogs, wings and burgers.
The company seems to be hoping the Incogmeato line will bring consumers back to the brand. Although it will be a battle for market share, if its strategy works, this launch could threaten the growth of the rising stars in the plant-based space. Analysts at Piper Jaffray already speculated that MorningStar Farms could give Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods a run for its money for its profitable meat substitutes.
"I think '19 is going to be a really positive year from a growth standpoint," Melissa Cash, head of global marketing, strategy and innovation for plant-based protein and natural brands at Kellogg, told Food Dive earlier this year. "The company and our brand is really leaning in and making sure that we're taking our responsibility as America's number one veggie burger brand seriously."