Cargill enters plant-based protein market

Cargill announced on February 24 that it would now offer plant-based patties and ground products for the retail food and foodservice businesses to sell under its private label.

Cargill's plant-based protein options are expected to be available in early April. | Roy Graber
Cargill's plant-based protein options are expected to be available in early April. | Roy Graber

Cargill announced on February 24 that it would now offer plant-based patties and ground products for the retail food and foodservice businesses to sell under its private label. The plant-based protein options are expected to be available in early April.

"We've created some of the best tasting products available in the plant-based category today," said Elizabeth Gutschenritter, managing director of Cargill's alternative protein team in a press release from the company. "We've combined our deep knowledge of plant proteins with our expertise in R&D, product development and production to deliver products consumers will love."

The Cargill products are intended to bring more protein options to retail stores, cafeterias, fast food outlets, restaurants, and other global locations, the press release explained.

Cargill's global experience, coupled with its supply chain, scale and formulation capabilities give retail and foodservice businesses a unique opportunity to capitalize on the available plant-based protein. "Producing plant-based products across our global supply chain is the logical next step to expanding our ability to meet consumer needs and bring new value to this category," said Gutschenritter.

Brian Sikes, leader of Cargill's global protein and salt business, notes customers are looking to the company for solutions. "Cargill's strategy for both food and feed is based on helping customers thrive in a world where demand for protein is rising," said Sikes.

Cargill's investment for the future

Cargill has invested $7 billion globally in animal protein in the last five years while making strategic investments in the alternative protein space. Including its $75 million investment in Puris, the largest North American producer of pea protein, in September of 2019.

This came after Cargill announced its joint venture with Puris in January 2018, with an initial investment of $25 million.

The second investment enabled Puris to more than double its pea protein production. This investment positions Puris to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for its category-leading pea proteins, starches and fibers, all grown and produced through its vertically integrated and transparent supply chain.

"As consumer demand increases for plant-based proteins, we want to make sure that Cargill, with our partner Puris, can deliver on that demand with great tasting, sustainable and label-friendly pea protein for customers in North America and across the world," said Laurie Koenig, Cargill texturizers and specialty lead, in a press release from September of 2019.

Cargill, which is also the third largest turkey company in the United States, has made additional investments in its animal protein divisions as well, including acquisitions of entire companies and partnerships.

"We need to keep all protein options on the table," said Sikes. "Whether you are eating alternative or animal protein, Cargill will be at the center of the plate."

The move to plant-based proteins

Cargill is not the first company to offer a plant-based protein portfolio. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have already brought plant-based patties into fast-food chains, including Burger King's Impossible Burger.

Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods launched its plant-based products last year.

According to the New York Post, "Shares in Beyond Meat tumbled 6.3 percent at the open, to $110, amid news of Cargill's new offering, and ended the day down 3 percent, at $113.96."

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