Someone recently asked me for my thoughts on blended meat and plant protein products. I think this is a good topic to discuss because poultry producers are now introducing blended chicken products to the market. Not Bell & Evans.
The first thing to understand is that the big commodity producers are the ones pushing blended meat products. They’re the ones with 100 different labels to appeal to every segment of the market to make bigger profits. They’re trying to compete with the plant protein market by offering these half-and-half meat/plant protein products that consumers probably never asked for. They want to trick people into thinking they’re buying something healthier because the word plant is on the package. It has nothing to do with producing healthier, superior-quality products. How do I know? Look at an ingredients statement. You won’t recognize half the list! The new blended meat products I’ve seen are highly over-processed.
I think commodity producers have it all wrong and it’s only a matter of time before consumers catch on. They are marketing these highly processed blended meat products to consumers who really care about the food they eat. They’re mainly targeting parents who want to feed their families more vegetables and folks who want to cut back on their meat consumption. I know these customers really well because they are Bell & Evans customers! Parents choose Bell & Evans chicken because they know it’s the best in the market. They trust us because we put 100% of our efforts into producing ONE quality brand of all-natural and organic chicken. Parents appreciate that even our convenient, further-processed items like nuggets and tenders are whole meat pieces that are minimally processed and contain limited, simple ingredients. Parents know how to get creative with adding real vegetables into their meals without needing some concoction of meat/plant/vegetable/who-knows-what-else all rolled into one overly processed item on the plate.
And consumers who reduce the quantity of meat they consume are usually very choosy about the QUALITY of that meat they keep in their diet. They’re not going to pick some overly processed meat option. Last October, I wrote a blog about Belletarians who only eat Bell & Evans chicken. I’ve met so many of these people over the years. They’re choosy meat eaters and they choose Bell & Evans chicken.
My prediction is that once consumers read what’s in these plant-blended meat products, they’ll stay away. With that said, if you blend meat with a vegetable, say mushrooms for example, to offer a unique flavor profile and do it without adding a bunch of junk to the mix and ruining the quality of the meat and vegetable in the process, then I am open to the idea. But I still argue that a healthy, well-balanced dinner includes a serving of quality meat, a couple servings of real vegetables, and an ice-cold glass of quality milk!