Taste determines success of plant-based proteins

New plant-based protein products better mimic the taste and texture of traditional animal proteins, which has helped drive consumer interest and sales of meat alternatives, said Harshal Kshirsagar, VP of R&D Alternative Proteins, Tyson Foods.

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Blended burgers and plant-based nuggets are among Tyson Foods' Raised & Rooted offerings. (Tyson Foods)
Blended burgers and plant-based nuggets are among Tyson Foods' Raised & Rooted offerings. (Tyson Foods)

New plant-based protein products better mimic the taste and texture of traditional animal proteins, which has helped drive consumer interest and sales of meat alternatives, said Harshal Kshirsagar, VP of R&D Alternative Proteins, Tyson Foods.

“Most of the growth in plant-based proteins has come from flexitarians who are trying to add healthy protein options to their lifestyle and diet,” Kshirsagar explained during Plant-based Trends Affecting Sourcing Strategy on October 14, 2020.

“As we started learning the plant-based meat analogue category at Tyson Foods, what we quickly realized is the opportunity to win with the consumer really lies with the taste.”

Flexitarians interested in adding meat alternatives to their diets want to purchase a product that has the taste, texture, juiciness and flavor of real meat.

“When we started putting together our plant-based portfolio, we realized that we were going to have to include taste as an important criterion. We had numerous fast-paced integration sessions between our chefs, our marketing team and engineers where we looked at several sources and technologies. We believe we really delivered with that promise of taste,” said Kshirsagar.

Raised and Rooted

In 2019, Tyson Foods unveiled the Raised & Rooted alternative protein product line.

Raised & Rooted nuggets are made from a blend of pea protein isolate and other plant ingredients and contain five grams of fiber and omega-3s, and less saturated fat than traditional nuggets. The blended burger is made with Angus beef and pea protein isolate and has fewer calories and less saturated fat than the plant-based burgers sold by several competing companies.

“These plant-based nuggets are really a testament to how taste makes a difference in consumer adaptability. We’ve heard a consistent message from our consumers that they recognize that the way these products taste has been a winner in terms of product acceptance. That’s the message that we intend to take forward as we expand this portfolio,” Kshirsagar said.

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