July 15th, 2019

Plant Based Meats Hit the Bigs

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Vegetables

Big Players Join the Plant-Based Meat Movement

Plant Based Meats

In our last blog we discussed the proliferation of plant-based meats, along with the new clean/cell-based meat technology. We covered the big players in those arenas and the popularity of their products through growth and national menu acceptance.

This week we’re going to piggyback on that topic by looking at some of the bigger international players looking to break into the plant-based meat market. The most notable names in this category include Tyson, Nestle, and Hormel.

Plant-Based Meats Go Prime Time

Tyson

Tyson Foods crafted their empire through chicken and poultry but have proven repeatedly to be willing to change. From bacon to dog treats, sausages to meal kits, Tyson is no stranger to exploration. Which is why it should come as no surprise that they’ve begun the development of their own plant-based protein brand, Raised & Rooted.

Plant based proteins

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Using blends of pea protein powder and other plant-based ingredients, Tyson looks to gain a strong foothold through diverse product development. Foods included in this category are chicken nuggets, blended burgers (which will include Angus beef), and a mix of sausages and meatballs under the Aidell’s brand name. The vegan nuggets are expected in stores this summer while the blended burgers are slated for fall, 2019.

In support of these products, Tyson is working with and investing in many plant-based protein startups in order to gain an edge in the flavor race. One such company is MycoTechnolgy, the developer of a mushroom-based product called PureTaste. PureTaste is a clean label product designed to” clean up the taste profile of plant-based proteins.”

Nestlé Sweet Earth

meat alternatives

Image courtesy of foodnavigator-usa.com

Instead of undergoing their own infrastructure change, Nestlé purchased Sweet Earth, a plant-based protein producer, in 2017. While the agreement left original owners Kerry and Brian Swette in charge of operations, they actively receive support from Nestlé USA Foods Division.

Sweet Earth has gained quite the cult following in California with their craveable breakfast burritos and flavorful veggie burgers. Their partnership with Nestlé offers them immediate national distribution, marketing support, and trusted brand recognition. This year they intend to launch a new wave of products including the “Awesome Burger,” and its ground beef component, “Awesome Grounds.” A higher percentage of protein and fiber sets Sweet Earth products apart from their competition.

Hormel

Plant-based protein

Hormel is entering this market a bit more timidly than the other players. The initial offering will be a plant-based pizza topping (with little more description than that) focusing on the food service market. They’ve also recently introduced the “Fuse Burger,” a blend of turkey and rice, and the “Blend Burger” under the Applegate brand. The “Blend Burgers” feature a mix of meats and mushrooms.

No word on whether Hormel will investigate further plant-based meat options, but it’s clear they are monitoring the situation with a focus on restaurant applications.

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April 11th, 2018

Fast Food Quality Is Way Better Than You Think

Posted in Product Innovation, R&D Technology

Recently, a friend of Culinary Culture, Chef Jerome Rejano, was featured in an excellent write up by FoodBeast.com. Read below to learn why the quality of some fast food may be higher than you think it is.

If you would like to see the original article, please click here, and remember to follow our friends at FoodBeast.com for industry news and quality content.

(All content and images hereon courtesy of FoodBeast.com and Constantine Spyrou)

Fast Food Quality Is Way Better Than You Think, This Chef Helps Ensure That

Constantine Spyrou
Feb 20, 2018

What’s your take on fast food quality? Thanks to chefs in the food industry, it may be a lot better than what you think.

fast food quality

Food industry chefs like Jerome Rejano of CTI Foods work to create high-quality foods for the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry. CTI Foods, for example, supplies brands at the national, regional, and local level with soups, sauces, and proteins. These include shredded chicken, taco meat, hamburger patties, steak strips, and chili. “If a fast food restaurant has one of those items, more than likely CTI is manufacturing that,” Rejano, CTI’s director of culinary and innovation, told Foodbeast.

But while most consumers today see fast food as low quality, Rejano and CTI Foods actually work to bring out the best in every single one of their products. Rejano utilizes his fine dining background and food science knowledge to ensure that CTI’s lineup is delicious, safe, and made with quality ingredients.

That job starts with the grades of meat CTI uses for their proteins. When it comes to fast food meats, “there’s always a connotation that it’s dog food, it’s dog meat, it’s what’s gonna go into pet food or canner or something like that,” said Rejano.

However, while each client will allow and disallow specific grades of meat, several specify USDA Select or better. For those unfamiliar with the USDA grading system, Select is the third-highest in terms of quality, behind Choice and Prime. Most of the beef and pork you can find in grocery stores is Select, meaning the meat you buy there is the same CTI uses to make fast food items.

There’s also a lot of quality assurance and food safety procedure that goes into every batch of product sent out to quick-service-restaurants by CTI. Rejano detailed exactly what some of those are:

“Raw material can’t exceed a certain age, if it’s in a package, it can’t exceed X amount of days, and then we have so many days to use it once it’s opened. In manufacturing we have certain temperatures to hit to ensure that everything is fully cooked. And even after things are made, we send them out for microbiological testing to make sure there’s no spoilage, there’s no pathogens in there like E. coli, Salmonella, some of those bugs that you hear about in food. As the manufacturer, we’re really responsible for putting out safe food first, and it’s a benefit on my end if it tastes good.”

Even with all of that testing, chains and clients will still come in for regular audits of CTI’s facilities to ensure everything is up to their specifications. During these visits, Rejano will flex his “culinary muscle” and serve fine dining-type dishes to show that the raw materials CTI works with are of a quality the customer is looking for.

Companies like CTI ensure that what you’re eating at your go-to fast food spots uses the same quality ingredients you can cook with at home. If that’s the case, though, why aren’t these restaurant chains advertising that they’re not selling “dog food” quality product?

A big reason is that if they did, people that saw fast food as higher quality would also see it as more pricey. Many major QSR chains look to capitalize on their value menus to drive traffic. The perception that they had higher-quality meat would harm their “we’re cheap” brand images. The fact that these QSRs are able to marry the two together is a remarkable feat, and something they should get a little more credit for.

Rejano feels that for those skeptical about fast food, they should “give the brand a chance.”

“Depending on what fast food chain you go to, even if you have a restricted diet, or have some likes or dislikes or eat a little bit cleaner, there’s still options out there. These fast food chains are really gearing for a pretty wide net. So if someone’s not a really high fast food user, you still have choices — it’s just a matter of seeking those out. And again, the ingredients are pretty high quality.”

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