Nestle to Introduce Plant-Based ‘Awesome Burger’ This Fall
As Beyond Meat’s IPO continues to surge, the company behind the plant-based Beyond Burger is now worth over $6 billion. At the same time, Impossible Foods – Beyond Meat’s biggest plant-based competitor – continues to make headlines with everything it touches, be it partnering with Burger King on a vegetarian Whopper, helping Little Caesars add fake sausage to pizzas, or simply teasing plans to start selling at supermarkets. So it’s no surprise that established food giants like Nestle don’t want to be left in the dust of these booming startups – which explains why America can expect to see Nestle’s new “Awesome Burger” hitting store shelves this fall.
The Awesome Burger comes courtesy of Sweet Earth, a California-based brand scooped up by Nestle in 2017. Cofounder Brian Swette told Fast Company he believes this situation offers certain similarities to his aforementioned competition. “This is a great example of a small company being somewhat nimble and collaborating with a large company that has immense embedded knowledge in research and development, food processing, and procurement,” he said.
The burger is reportedly pea-protein based – which makes it similar to Beyond Burger more so than the Impossible Burger which uses soy. “We’ve got a great chew,” cofounder Kelly Swette added. “It’s very juicy. The color is very meaty, and it transforms as you cook it.” Though the new burger isn’t yet available to taste, when it does arrive, it’s expected to be sold both at retails and restaurants.
That said, Sweet Earth had a lot of catching up to do. Yes, the brand has already been selling veggie burgers, but the Awesome Burger represents a major pivot to try to compete with a plant-based burger that actually mimics real meat. Whereas Impossible and Beyond took years of research and continued tweaks even after their public releases, Sweet Earth’s attempt will arrive after only about a year and a half of development. And let’s be honest: Most taste tests (including my own) show that even between Impossible and Beyond, the Impossible Burger has a clear lead. Vegetarian foods that have attempted to mimic meat are nothing new; what is new is, recently, the best of these products are better and more like real meat than ever before. That’s where Nestle wants to be competing, and whether they can do it is yet to be seen.