Meat Alternatives Forecast To Play A Bigger Role In The Comfort Food Aisle

Ross Mackay, Daring CEO, expects that comfort food will be a greater growth opportunity. … [+]The future will see meat alternatives.


The plant-based trend has been closely connected to the rapid rise of meat alternatives over time. But as the novelty effect from faux meat begins to fade away, it is causing a shift in consumer attitudes. Category sales to even dipAnalysts expect alt protein players will find new ways to satisfy their customers.

That includes partnering with more restaurants and offering full meals, rather than selling standalone meatless products in retail — in other words, there will likely be a massive shift for comfort food, such as tacos and dumplings, to become more vegetarian friendly.

This movement is most evident at Daring (a Drake-backed company) that claims its plant-based product can pull like real chicken and recently closed a $65,000,000 series C round in Oct. “Foodservice makes up about 10% of Daring’s revenue today, and we expect that to grow as we lean further into this channel over the next few years,”Ross Mackay, founder and CEO, emailed me.

Daring has hit restaurant menus across several major U.S. metropolitan regions, including New York, LA and Miami, being served at popular venues such as Beauty & Essex and Groot Hospitality’s subsidiaries. Mackay believes that this gives his company an advantage to compete with highly processed plant-based burgers or nuggets.

“We think the comfort food trend will especially favor plant-based products that are a direct sub for whole muscle cuts, and can easily be incorporated into recipes that chefs already love to cook,” Mackay said.

“If a recipe calls for chicken, chefs can make it with Daring: sautéed, deep fried, wok fried, baked or shallow fried,”He added. “It’s such a versatile product, and our foodservice partners aren’t just using Daring as another protein option for salads — they’re reimagining comforts and creating amazing dishes like Daring kimchi fried rice, plant chicken pot pie, and Daring fried chicken and waffles.”

Alt protein companies, such as Daring, intend to expand their foodservice channel.


Segue Into Meat Alternatives

Daring and other peer players, including TiNDLE are looking for key growth opportunities in foodservice and comfort foods. However, they also help consumers transition to a plant-based diet. Dasha Shor is a registered dietitian at Mintel and a global food analyst.


Shor believes texture and taste concerns were the biggest barriers to consumers unfamiliar with protein alternatives. But, he noted how “prepared meals have the potential to remedy that by combining familiar ingredients and flavor profiles with less familiar veggie options like plant sausage or dairy-free cheese.”

“Here inspiration can come from foodservice,”She said, “where diners are more open to trying new options when they are part of a meal prepared by a chef: 64% of Americans who dine out express interest in plant-based menu options.” 

Meal preparation companies are taking notice and offering more vegetable options to their customers. Argentinian startup Frizata, which has just debuted in the U.S. with a line of frozen appetizers and meatless items, including Fribruger and FriChick’n Empanadas, says its goal is to target flexitarians instead of vegetarians only.

Frizata’s cofounder and CEO, José Robledo, explained to me: “The percentage of vegans and vegetarians is 2% and 4%, respectively. That’s still small for us to talk about revolution and impact on the environment. But when we add to this, almost 30% of flexitarians (people who reduce the consumption of animal meat in their diet but do not eliminate it), the impact is strong. These three groups added together are one-third of the population and this total is what has been growing.”

Frizata, an Argentinian DTC startup has recently made its debut in the U.S. … [+] flexitarians.


Robledo notes how the 70% of Frizata’s plant-based products are made without the intention of simulating animal meat. 

“We understand that we need to provide our customers with as many and a variety of plant-based options as possible for their everyday meals,”He said. “The vegetable universe is too wide for us to limit ourselves to thinking only about making a meat burger without meat.”

Navigating Consumer Pain Points

Others prefer to avoid faux meat entirely, citing increased competition in the market and a more focused business strategy which allows them to show authenticity and wholesomeness.

Canadian startup Komo Plant Based Foods, which makes traditional comfort food items, including taco filling, lasagna, and shepherd’s pie, believes the biggest consumer pain point today is finding hearty, convenient, and shareworthy products.

“They just want real food, and good food,” said Komo’s president Jeffrey Ma. “We don’t need to own another burger.. because there’s no way to really win in that space as a new company. It would be very difficult to compete with Tyson Foods.

, Nestlé or Kraft, who all have their own plant-based meat brands.”

While natural herbs and spices are Komo’s primary ingredients for flavoring, lentils and other pea proteins are used in its lasagna and shepherd’s pie dishes to enhance their meaty texture, according to Ma, who also notes Komo’s plan is to launch into the U.S. market around Q1 or Q2 in 2022, and enters the confectionery category in the future, which “again falls into the plant-based comfort food category.”

“Obviously, a lot of desserts are comfort foods, so that’s one thing we are working on right now,”Ma said. “For now, we’ll stay in the frozen space just to streamline our distribution and storage.”

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