Progressive Grocer

Grocerant February 2017

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9 SOLUTIONS FEBRUARY 2017 "Vegans want to have their In-N-Out burgers and eat them, too," according to Eater food news and dining guides, which reported in September 2016 that more than 18,000 people had signed a petition asking the California-based cult-favorite burger chain to put a veggie burger on the menu. It's just one sign of how even nonmeat eaters still crave a good burger, say experts, which is inspiring more creativity from veggie burger purveyors. "The variety of conventional veggie burgers has increased dramatically. You can find everything from Thai-spice veggie burgers to 'cowboy veggie burgers' with salsa and black beans," says Rachel Konrad, chief com- munications officer of Impossible Foods in Redwood City, Calif. Impossible Foods has developed the Impossible Burger, a new type of meat-mimicking patty that includes heme, an iron-containing, oxygen-carrying molecule in blood that's highly concentrated in red meat but can also be found in plants. "We don't consider the Impossible Burger a veggie burger," says Konrad. "It's an entirely new product category of plant- based meat. The Impossible Burger cooks, sizzles, caramelizes, smells and tastes like ground beef from cows—but it's made entirely from plants." Beyond Meat, a Manhattan Beach, Calif., company also known for a very beef-like burger, uses a formula of pea protein and beet juice so that the burger "bleeds." The company has received recent boosts from high-tech companies and a Tyson Foods' investment and is rapidly growing in both retail and foodser- vice. Beyond Meat plans to develop more products to meet the demand for traditional dishes that also address the health, sustainability and animal wel- fare benefits of plant-based protein, says Beyond Burger representative Carly Rebec- chi of the M Booth agency. One burger expert thinks time—and taste—will tell whether these new burg- er-esque patties will really satisfy burger cravings for vegetarians and vegans. Scott Hume, editor of BurgerBusiness.com, notes that "McDonald's has tried nonmeat burgers and never has found a market big enough to make them worthwhile." But an official at Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Bareburgers recently told Hume that veggie patties account for 10 to 12 percent of burger orders at the eater- ies. Similarly, Florida-based BurgerFi reports that 1 in 8 burgers sold nationally at the chain is nonmeat. "That's enough to make it worthwhile to sell them and to try to have a decent one," writes Hume. "That's why several chains have improved their veggie patties: Non- meat eaters hate a tasteless burger. With more choices available, they'll go where some thought has gone into the veggie offerings. As with any product, there's room for it in the marketplace if people like it." Veggie burgers with pizzazz One in 8 burgers sold at BurgerFi is meatless. The new plant-based Impossible Burger smells and tastes like ground beef, according to its maker.

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