- Meati Foods is claiming a stake in the plant-based snacking category with the launch of its mycelium-based jerky through its DTC website, the company announced last week.
- The plant-based snacking category is a growing market, but Meati doesn’t embrace the “plant-based” label, said VP of marketing and communications Christina Ra, which sets it apart from competitors.
- The choice to launch a shelf-stable product like plant-based jerky is a part of Meati’s lofty goal of becoming the U.S. market leader in plant-based meat by 2025.
Meati’s jerky launch is the latest in a string of plant-based snack options that have arrived on the market as many consumers shift their tastes toward wholesome and natural foods.
The category is projected to grow from $49.5 billion in 2023 to $77.9 billion by 2030, showing a compound annual growth rate of 7.85% during the forecast period, according to a 2023 plant-based snack market report by Market Research Future.
The launch follows a period of change for Meati. In September, the company initiated a round of layoffs in order to focus on profitability.
Now, the new product offering is being sold on their website, which was also a business decision made in September to improve profitability and respond to the demands of their consumers.
“The reason we’re launching this product is to offer a delicious, functional snack,” said Ra.
“We look less at jerky players and the snacking category as a whole — many people are eating meals less and relying on nutrient-dense sustenance, and our jerky delivers terrific protein, fiber and micronutrients very conveniently on the go.”
The jerky is made from the company’s patented mushroom root, and is available in the flavors of original, peppered and sweet chili. In addition to the launch of the jerky snacks, there is more product innovation on the way.
“With snacking becoming more important in people’s lives, we’ll certainly be considering what is possible when and what makes sense for the business,” said Ra.
There are many other smaller players in the plant-based industry already in the space — Krave and Conagra to name a few — but as Ra said, Meati does not consider themselves to be “plant-based,” as the category has become associated with complicated ingredients.
“We’re seeing a lot of great, new players in the space lately. But Meati is what it is because of our MushroomRoot,” said Ra.
Beyond Meat is considered a giant in the sector and launched its plant-based jerky in early 2022 as the first product from its joint-venture with PepsiCo, Planet Partnership.
This was Beyond Meat’s first shelf-stable product launch, and an effort to boost its sluggish sales at the time. As the company continues to see declining sales, however, it may have been a shot in the dark and a testament to how consumers feel about all things considered “plant-based.”
Another category leader, Impossible Foods, is taking a different approach. It doesn’t have plans to enter the snacks space just yet.
Pat McGuinness, CEO of Impossible Foods said in an interview with Food Dive that the private company was focusing on growth so as to steal a bigger piece of the meat segment. A company spokesperson confirmed that this remained its strategy.
While inconsistent product quality between different brands has led to declining sales in the plant-based overall, and skepticism around taste and texture of plant-based alternatives remain a barrier to trial, Impossible is keeping a lean eye on improving the products they already have, and making them just as good as animal-based meat.