The Kellogg Company sells around 90 million pounds of veggie meat a year under its plant-based meat brand MorningStar Farms.
Meat-free products under the MorningStar Farms label have been available in U.S. supermarkets since 1975. At that time, the brand was owned by Worthington Foods, which Kellogg’s purchased in 1999 and subsequently acquired the MorningStar Farms brand. Kellogg’s sold Worthington in 2014 but held onto MorningStar Farms.
MorningStar Farms — which sells vegetarian chicken nuggets, burgers, and bacon — is the largest brand in the U.S. plant-based meat category, Kellogg executive Sara Young told MarketWatch’s financial columnist Brett Arends.
Young added that MorningStar Farms has “the highest repeat rate in the category.”
Young disclosed, “we serve over 90 million pounds of food to consumers annually.” Around a third of those sales are meat-free burgers, a third are meat-free chicken products, and a third are other items, like veggie breakfast sausages.
Arends calculated that MorningStar Farms earns just over $5 for each pound, meaning the brand earns approximately $450 million a year.
MorningStar Farms’ Vegan Food
MorningStar Farms has long been a vegetarian brand; many of its meat-free meats include dairy and eggs, making them unsuitable for those following a vegan diet.
However, alongside the public’s rising interest in fully vegan products, the Kellogg’s subsidiary announced earlier this year that it would update its 49 retail products and 26 foodservice options to be vegan, transitioning to a fully vegan brand by 2021.
The change will remove 300 million eggs from its annual production and help the company reduce its land and water use, MorningStar Farms said.
The transition began last year when the brand launched two vegan burgers. The Veggie Lovers Vegan Burger includes ten vegetables, grains, and seeds, and the Meat Lovers Vegan Burger brings a “flame-grilled flavor” and meaty bite.
Shortly after, MorningStar Farms relaunched three of its vegetarian chicken products — Buffalo Wings, Buffalo Chik Patties, and Chik’N Nuggets — as vegan, and released a new vegan chicken item, BBQ nuggets.
Mel Cash, head of global marketing for Kellogg’s plant-based protein division, said the change was inspired by demand. “It’s less about having a competitive advantage and more about being able to satisfy as many people as possible who want to eat plant-based,” Cash said.