Imitation meat and plant-based meat products have become more and more visible on store shelves. However recently, large companies like Tyson Foods, Inc. and Perdue have decided to join a new market which blends meat and plant products.
According to Katherine Walla’s article, “Meat in the Middle: Blended Options Join Eaters in Sustainability,” alternative protein options like plant-based nuggets, sausages, meatballs and blended burgers that include vegetables in the patties, will soon be more readily available.
The market for alternative meat products seems to be growing and consumers want to buy healthier products. According to Melanie Bartelme, a global food analyst with the consulting firm Mintel who published a 2018 report on Plant-Based Proteins in the U.S., 88 percent of U.S. consumers identify plant-based proteins as healthy options.
A nutritious diet is one reason people might choose to purchase blended-meat products, but for others it may be the environmental benefits.
In the article Walla reports, “Partially replacing meat with plant-based ingredients can help consumers limit their contributions to diet-related greenhouse gases by up to 15 percent. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), replacing every burger Americans eat with burgers that are 30 percent plant-based may conserve 83 billion gallons of water per year, equivalent to 2.6 million American’s yearly household water use, and reduce agricultural land demand by 14,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Maryland.”
Special impact programs like the Blended Burger Project led by the James Beard Foundation is helping to create conversations around health and sustainability in the food system. In 2019, they are once again challenging restaurants to create flavorful burgers that consist of at least 25 percent mushrooms. With a cash prizes up to $5,000, this kind of contest brings in all kinds of participation. Justin Robinson, a participating chef in St. Petersburg, FL said, “The blend allowed us to offer our clients a burger that is healthier, more sustainable, and delicious to boot. It also didn’t hurt that it was outselling our regular menu burger nearly two to one.”
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