Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods and Applegate Farms, three of the biggest meat suppliers in the US, have all introduced new ‘blended meat’ and non- meat products in contrast to the usual animal products they have been processing and marketing for years. This is a response to the rising demand for plant-based alternatives to meat in order to increase the market value of these brands and increase sales from both existing and new consumers.
Perdue’s new “chicken plus” line includes nuggets, tenders and patties mixed with a half serving of cauliflower, chickpeas and plant protein and is designed to help flexitarian families and kids eat more vegetable servings. Tyson’s first mixed-protein products include blended protein burgers made from beef and pea protein, sausages and meatballs that combine chicken with plants including chickpeas, black beans and quinoa, and vegetarian nuggets. Applegate, owned by Hormel Foods, has introduced turkey and beef burgers blended with mushrooms for those who eat meat but “are looking to incorporate more plants and vegetables into their diets”, in the words of the brand's president John Ghingo.
Analysts estimate that the US alternative meat market will be worth $100 billion by 2035, as consumers shift to reduced meat consumption as a result of health and environmental risks. Justin Whitmore, head of Tyson’s alternative protein business, said,“The double-digit growth in the sector is largely driven by meat eaters who want the health and nutrition that they perceive to come from plants along with the taste they’ve always had from animal protein”.
Despite the rapid growth of plant-based meat, it only comprises about 1 percent of the entire meat market. However, perceptions about meat and its components are slowly changing. Two of the biggest plant-based meat companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have used marketing strategies that include endorsement from celebrities to make plant-based meat trendy. Perdue, Tyson and Applegate spending millions to launch these new products is a sign that these previously niche trends are now becoming a paradigm shift.