Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Sweet Earth adds bacon to make its plant-based burger more Awesome
The combination of bacon and a hamburger is a popular indulgence for meat lovers. Nestlé’s Sweet Earth brand is combining the two with its own twist.
Sweet Earth, the plant-based product line purchased by the Swiss food giant in 2017, is taking its meat-alternative burger and infusing it with vegan bacon bits to create the Awesome Bacon Burger, a product the company said is the first of its kind in the category.
The Awesome Bacon Burger is made with textured pea protein, contains 26 grams of essential nutrients and is Non-GMO Project verified. The burger is hitting shelves at H-E-B this week, with nationwide distribution to follow.
After launching its first beef-like offering under its Sweet Earth banner in October, Nestlé has been rapidly rolling out new products spotlighting plant-based meat. Nestlé has introduced Mindful Chik'n, sausages in varieties including Green Chile Chedd'r and Chik'n Apple, and eight new Sweet Earth burritos and entrée bowls in June. It also launched DiGiorno Rising Crust Meatless Supreme and Stouffer’s Meatless Lasagna, both made with Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds.
Plant-based meats remain among the fastest-growing segments in food, highlighted by the recent success of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Investment firm UBS projects the plant-based protein and meat alternatives market will increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion in 2030.
It’s no wonder why companies such as Nestlé are making a big move to capture some of that sales surge and rolling out chicken, sausages and more meat-like burger offerings. In just the last few years, Tyson Foods, Perdue, Hormel Foods and Conagra Brands are among the other companies that have entered the space for the first time or improved the taste of their existing offerings.
— Christopher Doering
Who needs cider? Busch Light makes apple beer
When most beer companies start thinking about fall, they branch out into cider.
Busch Light is skipping that step and bringing the apple flavor directly to its beer. The Anheuser-Busch stalwart product’s first flavored beer launched this week. It is available in select states for a limited time.
“The development and launch of Busch Light Apple is one of the most significant moments in our brand’s 65-year history,” said Daniel Blake, vice president of Anheuser-Busch’s value brands, in a release sent to Food Dive.
While the apple flavor may make consumers think of outdoorsy fall fruit, the marketing campaign for the new brew takes inspiration from another Apple: the Silicon Valley tech giant. Busch posted a video to launch the beer that copies the style of Apple product launch press conferences, as well as designed a product website similar to that of the tech company.
But no matter which apple the new beer is associated with, the flavor is a smart choice. Austrian flavor producer Esarom predicted apple would be the most popular flavor of 2020 across all applications. Apple is generally considered healthy, and its many varieties make it a popular local crop in many parts of the world.
As alcohol sales on the whole have slowed, fruity ciders have long been a bright spot. Cider helped boost global alcohol sales to growth in 2017 — though it was only growth of 0.01%, according to IWSR market research. Cider only represents 1% of the alcohol industry, according to Nielsen statistics referenced by SevenFifty Daily, but just a small expansion could be lucrative.
Bringing the fruity appeal of cider to beer is an interesting crossover, which could help bottom lines. After all, alcohol sales have been increasing because of the coronavirus pandemic, with beer sales during peak pantry loading the third week in March 34% over last year. Malt beverages increased by 42%.
This new drink isn’t quite a cider or a malt beverage, but it offers a new experience to consumers of the 170-year-old beer company.
— Megan Poinski
Mac and cheese’s nutty makeover
Restaurant chefs are trying to make vegan macaroni and cheese taste better than the real deal.
Eat Howl, a plant-based foods company in California, launched Mac & Chef, a cashew-based macaroni and cheese, at Whole Foods, online and at other select retailers nationwide.
The new product line was developed by chefs working at high-end restaurants. The company said in a release Mac & Chef is "set to change the game in the growing, plant-based mac and cheese category as the only product that uses cashew cheese and no chemical preservatives."
Mac & Chef is shelf stable and offers a clean label, featuring ingredients including cashews, yeast, lemon juice and garlic. The product is currently available in two varieties: Classic Cashew and Spicy Chipotle. The company plans to launch more flavors and product lines soon.
Dairy alternatives have become more popular in recent years. As consumers have shown increased interest in plant-based and dairy-free products, more variety has come to shelves. Vegan cheese has especially started to take off with Miyoko's Creamery seeing sales climb for its plant-based cheeses and Good Planet raising $12 million this year.
Though the vegan macaroni and cheese space is not too crowded, Eat Howl will have competition. Annie's, Daiya Foods and Amy's brands all offer their own takes on the popular convenience meal.
Will this new brand stand out among veterans in the space? The company said that its nutritional improvements could help convince consumers to put it in their carts. Compared to the top-selling vegan mac and cheese, Mac & Chef said it has 50% less total fat, 86% less saturated fat and more than double the protein.
— Lillianna Byington