Why is this significant?
With plant based products moving into the mainstream we’re now seeing large food companies joining the fray. This further legitimises the plant-based trend and helps cement the long term success of the sector.
As we saw last month the world’s largest food company Nestlé is releasing it’s Incredible Burger and now Lightlife Foods is also releasing a plant based burger. Lightlife is a fully owned subsidiary of another huge food company, the $2.6 bn Canadian meat conglomerate Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
Lightlife are no stranger to alternative protein products as they are “the brand behind Gimme Lean meatless “beef,” Tofu Pups hot dogs, Organic Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh Strips and other vegetarian staples” As part of Maple Leaf they have access to financial and marketing muscle, which has apparently allowed them to go from concept to production in 6 months! They also have manufacturing experience and a great distribution network, bolstered by Maple Leaf’s resources. So who will win?
Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have definitely pioneered the next generation of plant-based hamburgers in the US. They have the advantage of being the first movers but now, as the space becomes mainstream, they face some stiff competition. If the market is growing as much as projected there’s more than enough room for all players. But will Nestle and Lightlife take the lions share or will the first mover advantage favour Impossible and Beyond? For those of us who remember it could be another Betamax vs VHS, where the company with the marketing, distribution and manufacturing clout won the war and we ended up with VHS video cassettes and players!
2018 was the year that plant-based meat alternatives went mainstream, 2019 will be the year that we see some real scaling of both volume and manufacturers. Who will be next to join the war? Will some of the big conventional meat hamburger patty manufacturers join the fray? OSI? Tyson now own Keystone Foods and with their investment in Beyond looking good, will they turn Keystone loose on the market?
Large conventional meat companies can no longer sit on the sidelines. It’s time to step up and enter the plant-based meat market or risk being left with the scraps!