Vegan meat brand Gardein is getting ready to launch a new line of realistic vegan burgers and sausages.
The popular brand, owned by Conagra Brands subsidiary Pinnacle Foods, is part of the parent company’s big plants for the vegan meat markets, Food Business News reports. Chairman and CEO Sean Connolly said during a conference call with financial analysts that they can “reasonably predict” that the market opportunity is big, based on how almond milk and other plant-based alternatives are finding favor with consumers.
“Based on this view, our analysis shows that plant-based meat alternatives could achieve a 15% share of both of these market segments,” Connolly said. “That means the opportunity here could be in the range of $30 billion just in the U.S. And you know, there’s even more opportunity internationally.”
There’s Money in the Vegan Meat Market
The vegan meat market is on the rise. Sales grew 24 percent in 2018, bringing the U.S. market value up to $670 million, according to a Nielsen report commissioned by the Plant Based Foods Association.
According to executive director Michele Simon, the increased sales signal that the plant-based meat market has gone from niche to mainstream. Earlier this year, vegan meat brand Beyond Meat became the first of its kind to go public, resulting in the biggest first-day IPO in nearly two decades. It’s being hailed as one of the biggest stock market sensations of the year.
Conagra Brands plans to leverage Gardein to boost sales. The three new products — the Ultimate Burger, Ultimate Hot Dog, and Ultimate Sausage — are still under development. The appear to follow the lead of brands like Beyond Meat, Lightlife, and even Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, with a realistic appearance and high protein content.
Gardein quadrupled in size over the past few years. It is currently the second-largest meat-free brand in the space (outpaced by Kellogg’s-owned MorningStar Farms) with sales of more than $170 million. Additional production capacity will be added to its two facilities this fall.
While new vegan burgers are on the way, Connolly says that Gardein’s focus will be broad: “Burgers are important, but this market extends well beyond beef patties or even beef. Chicken is by far the most popular animal protein in the U.S., both in home and away from home. I would also highlight the significant consumption of pork, hot dogs, and fish.”
Gardein has not announced a launch date for its Ultimate line.