- Tyson Foods is introducing two sandwiches featuring a plant-based patty to its Jimmy Dean brand, the company said in a statement. The Jimmy Dean Plant-Based Patty, Egg & Cheese Croissant Sandwich and Jimmy Dean Delights Plant-Based Patty & Frittata Sandwich are the first plant-protein offerings from an existing brand at the Arkansas-based company, Justin Whitmore, who oversees Tyson's alternative protein business, said in an email.
- Tyson said the new Jimmy Dean items will be sold in the frozen aisle alongside other Jimmy Dean products. Whitmore hinted other Tyson brands could soon incorporate plant-based meat. "We are focused on producing plant protein products in multiple protein forms across multiple brands, channels and geographies, and are excited about the wave of new products we plan to introduce over the next 12 months," he said.
- Tyson entered the burgeoning market for plant-based alternatives less than two years ago with plant-based nuggets made from a blend of pea protein isolate and other plant ingredients, as well as blended burgers made with Angus beef and pea protein isolate. Tyson recently announced it was discontinuing production of the Raised & Rooted hybrid burger patty.
As more consumers incorporate plant-based alternatives into their diets, they are looking for more than just a faux burger or chicken nugget. Increasingly, they want their favorite foods that feature meat to use plant-based ingredients.
The rollout of the Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches is the latest move by large CPG companies to do just that. Nestlé introduced its first U.S. products in 2020 that incorporated plant-based meat in items that traditionally use the animal-based option: DiGiorno Rising Crust Meatless Supreme and Stouffer’s Meatless Lasagna, both made with Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds. And Conagra Brands has been bringing its plant-based Gardein line to other products in its portfolio including its Birds Eye Meatless Be'f Lasagna and Marie Callender's Gardein Chick'n Pot Pie.
For brands like Jimmy Dean, extending a conventional meat offering to the plant-based realm is essential, and one that Tyson and others are all but assured of doing more of in the future. As consumers flock to plant-based alternatives for some or all of their meals, a brand that only has the meat option risks losing sales to a competitor who offers both choices for the shopper. In the case of Tyson, the ability to latch on to the Jimmy Dean brand, and then sell the plant-based and meat options side by side, leaves it up the consumer to chose and makes it more likely that Tyson will get a sale either way.
"The Jimmy Dean portfolio of products must offer choices that address what and how people are eating today," Noelle O’Mara, who leads Tyson's prepared foods business, said in an email to Food Dive. "With research showing more traditional meat eaters are willing to incorporate more plant-based foods alongside meat staples, including at the breakfast occasion, we saw a great opportunity to provide new options to consumers that complement the existing portfolio with the plant-based-patty breakfast sandwiches."
The product uses the Jimmy Dean signature seasoning to try to mimic the taste people would expect from the brand.
Best known for its beef, pork and chicken products, the 91-year-old Tyson is introducing plant-based options at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has encouraged more consumers to eat healthier. And with more people working or studying from home, many have the time to eat breakfast rather than grabbing it on the go from a fast food restaurant. The Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches give consumers another morning option, and their portability makes them ideal for on-the-go consumption when more people start commuting again.