Brands: Nestle's Awesome Burger Ups the "fake meat" ante
Three years ago, the plant-based but meat-like Beyond Burger hit shelves at a Whole Foods in Colorado. The next month, the Impossible Burger went on the menu at Momufuku Nishi in New York City. Now–as the Impossible Burger starts to roll out at Burger King nationwide, and Beyond recently had the best-performing IPO of the year–Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, is preparing for the U.S. launch of a similarly realistic plant-based burger of its own.
Called the Awesome Burger, the new product was developed by Sweet Earth, a California-based brand that Nestlé acquired in 2017. “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,” says Brian Swette, cofounder of Sweet Earth.
The brand, which makes products like “Benevolent Bacon,” also already makes more traditional veggie burgers that don’t attempt to closely mimic meat. But as omnivores have embraced more plant-based diets, the company realized that it needed to develop something new. “The next evolution of the veggie burger, as the customer becomes more mainstream, is that the burger becomes more mainstream or meat-like,” says cofounder Kelly Swette.
Like the products made by Impossible and Beyond, the new burger is designed to look and taste like beef, not plants. On a grill, it sizzles like the real thing. “We’ve got a great chew,” she says. “It’s very juicy. The color is very meaty, and it transforms as you cook it.”
The recipe is designed to be healthier than beef, with 28 grams of protein versus the 20 grams that might be in a beef burger. Yellow peas, which are high in protein, are a key part of the recipe. (The company also chose peas rather than soy in part because of the sustainability advantages of peas, which can help improve soil health as they grow, and can be sourced locally.)