- Nearly a half year after Nestlé released its Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger in Europe, the Swiss-company is reformulating its recipe to be juicier and have a greater meat-like texture and grilled beef flavor, Bloomberg reported.
- Nestlé plans to launch a plant-based burger in the U.S., where it will be called the Awesome Burger, in the fall. The Awesome Burger will be made of pea protein, according to the company.
- Other plant-based products in the line include a ground beef alternative called Garden Gourmet Incredible Mince that will be released next month in Europe. Other Garden Gourmet items were tested earlier this year in the U.K., but are no longer being sold.
The plant-based meat market is expanding at an impressive clip. Sales climbed 42% between March 2016 and March 2019 to $888 million, according to Nielsen data. Euromonitor predicts the market for plant-based meat substitutes will reach $2.5 billion by 2023. Although Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger burst into the space several years ago and were catapulted to stardom by insatiable consumer demand, both companies combined are unable to satisfy the demand.
With so much market potential for companies to capture, companies like Unilever, Tesco, Nestlé, Marks & Spencer and Conagra are looking to take a bite. Nestlé was identified in a report by FAIRR as one of the most proactive companies preparing for the rapid expansion of the $19.5 billion alternative protein market. To directly take on the success of Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, Nestlé is working diligently to perfect the formulation of its Awesome Burger.
The problem with so much potential comes a lot of competition, and the multitude of options has made consumers discerning.
Nestlé's plant-based Incredible Burger, which has both wheat and soy protein, has been in the European market since April. It appears that consumer feedback has directed the company to focus on making the product more meat-like. Although Nestlé did not share a date for the launch of its reformulation, it will likely be soon.
Success in the U.S. will be a tough undertaking. Unlike in Europe, where Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger have not come to market, the United States is saturated with plant-based meat options. But Nestlé has one advantage that these upstarts do not: scale. Plant-based startups can't begin to compete with the financial heft, R&D expertise and international distribution of Nestlé. Still, the Swiss giant has some catching up to do in order to grab market share and will need to throw its weight behind marketing and advertising to get consumers curious to try the product.
Taste will be what matters and keeps consumers returning, which is why it is so important for Nestlé to take its time to thoroughly test and tweak its product in Europe — even more than it typically does.
Nestlé should know what it’s doing when it comes to plant-based products and flavor. Plant-based items make up about half of the company's protein sources now, including in pet food. Its Garden Gourmet brand already makes lentil, chickpea and quinoa kale burgers. It has introduced vegetarian schnitzel, sausage and faux chicken nuggets, among other meatless products.
Nestlé isn’t the only one feeling the pressure to get plant-based burgers out there. Impossible Burger has until now only been available at restaurants. Much like Nestlé, though, the company plans for its namesake product to enter U.S. grocery stores this year, which could potentially complicate the choice for consumers.
At the same time, two big competitors entering the plant-based burger space at the same time could do wonders for marketing. The companies have the potential to ignite a social media taste-off war that could bring attention to both brands. That attention, regardless of its source, will be beneficial. With a seemingly insatiable market for plant-based burgers, there is enough room for everyone — at least for a while.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated which Nestlé product will be reformulated. The Swiss-based company is tweaking the recipe to its Incredible Burger, which is available in Europe.