ANAHEIM, CALIF. — It's a new day for Boca, the brand of vegetarian burgers that debuted as the Sun Burger in a Boca Raton, Fla., restaurant in 1979. The Kraft Heinz Co. has reformulated and rebranded the product to tap into the growing plant-based foods movement. Unveiled at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, the reintroduction of Boca is among the first projects from Springboard, Kraft Heinz's new platform dedicated to scaling and accelerating food and beverage brands.
"A lot of people divide this category into veggie lovers and meat lovers," said Sergio Eleuterio, general manager of Springboard Brands at the Kraft Heinz Co., during a presentation at Expo West. "We believe, and the numbers will tell, that most of the market, the future of this market is in the middle, is what the industry calls flexitarians. People who buy Boca also buy meat."
Such mostly millennial "balancers" are driving the growth of plant-based foods and beverages, he said. To appeal to this demographic and stand out among hundreds of meat alternatives, new Boca products have been reformulated for improved taste and texture and a clean packaging design. The company also plans to expand the brand into new product categories including chickpea-based falafel bites, Mr. Eleuterio said.
"The future of this market is in the middle, is what the industry calls flexitarians." — Sergio Eleuterio, the Kraft Heinz Co.
"At Boca, we want to make sure we are offering options," he said.
To create the new recipes, Mr. Eleuterio said the company worked with suppliers to improve the texture of the soy.
"Texture will carry the flavor, so we felt if it was too mushy, too watery, then the flavor got bland and boring," he said. "We worked with our flavor houses to redevelop the flavor for the whole line."
The Springboard platform was created to develop brands within one of four pillars: natural and organic; specialty and craft; health and performance; and experiential brands. The company is seeking to partner with start-ups through an incubator program while accelerating brands within its portfolio.
Another project underway is Jell-O Play, a product line set to launch in the second quarter that will reposition the Jell-O brand not as a snack or dessert but a "creative opportunity," Mr. Eleuterio said.