The veteran plant-based protein producer Tofurky — a company whose calls for curbing animal meat consumption date back to a time before anyone from the Millennial generation had even been born — has just launched its new beef-style burger. As of this week, it is now available in over 600 Target locations in the US.
Previously best known (and in its early days, not necessarily loved) for its plant-based alternatives to turkey around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, the new Plant-Based Burger by Tofurky is a foray into the ground-beef alternative space — a growing market that has helped serve sizzling company valuations to newer and trendier companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
While in no way as glitzy as the Las Vegas launch of Impossible Pork at the Consumer Electronics Show the other day, this burger launch is still a statement of intent for Tofurky. The privately-owned company won $7 million debt funding for the first time in its four decades-long history last year, and a move into beef replacement products has been on the cards for some time.
In fact, the company already has a cautionary tale to learn from with its previous launch of a ground beef alternative: a “DIY” patty, which was then awkwardly stalled and withdrawn. “We had a DIY product, but we rushed to market with it,” Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos admitted to Forbes last October. “You could shape it into a burger patty, but I think what happened with that one was we were never able to fully realize the quality we can get within our own kitchen. So, we scrapped that plan and pulled it from the market and started over.”
Even though core sales around its turkey alternatives have been on the rise in recent years, the company seems set on diversifying as the best way to keep its legacy brand relevant to a growing market of flexitarians, reducetarians and vegetarians — a trend you can read about in greater detail in AgFunder’s White Paper published last year for its New Carnivore Fund.
‘Tasty yet versatile’
Still, Tofurky’s marketing could probably sound a little less tired if it wants to eclipse growing competition in the burger alternative space, even from some of the traditional protein players like Nestle, Cargill and Unilever. In its press release sent to AFN, Tofurky describes its new burger in slightly frumpy terms as having “a tasty yet versatile flavor profile.”
The burger’s soy base, the company claims, comes with a more sustainable footprint (given the ability to use all parts of the bean) when compared to pea protein, found in rival products. Its two-patty packs “will use sturdy, recyclable cartons that tout 23% less paperboard material, and inner packaging has 69% less plastic film waste than others in the space.” Like all Tofurky foods, the new chef-crafted, plant-based burgers are 100% non-GMO and vegan. It is made using a mix of soy protein, vegetable protein, and wheat gluten and lightly seasoned with salt, onion, garlic, and black pepper. And it can be found for an SRP of $5.99 in the produce section.
“I can’t wait for Target shoppers to try our new Plant-Based Burger. We are very happy with the final recipe and beef-style texture,” said Jaime Athos, president and CEO of Tofurky, in a press statement. “Many flexitarians resolve to go completely plant-based for the month of January, so we wanted provide a new burger option now, ahead of summer grilling, that is affordable, delicious, and accessible.”
Have you tried Tofurkey’s new burger? What does it taste like? Email me a review at [email protected]