BALTIMORE — Leaf Jerky, a new brand launching at Natural Products Expo East, has roots in Battle Creek, Mich. A Kellogg Co. employee submitted the idea for a plant-based meat snack alternative during an internal pitch contest a year ago. Dubbed “Tiger Tank,” the annual program solicits business ideas and rewards the winners with funding and support.

Amy Shouldice, founder of Leaf Jerky and brand manager of new ventures for Kellogg Co., said she “wanted to create a vegan brand and product that was delicious enough to share with my meat eating family and friends, but also provides good-for-you, good-for-the-earth benefits.”

“A plant-based product uses less natural resources than animal production and our packaging is recyclable,” Ms. Shouldice told Food Business News. “We are also giving back to the next generation of sustainable farmers through a grant and partnership with Michigan State University, my alma mater.”

Leaf Jerky is soy-based and packaged in a single portion for portable consumption. Brandishing the tagline “All leaf. No beef,” the product is available in one flavor, cracked pepper and herb, with additional varieties launching soon. A serving has 80 calories and 11 grams of protein.

“We think the sky’s the limit for Leaf Jerky,” Ms. Shouldice said. “So many people have the desire and intent to incorporate more plant-based protein in their diets, but a major barrier is uncertainty around preparation. Leaf Jerky is an easy, familiar, ready-to-savor option for vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians alike.

Amy Shouldice, founder of Leaf Jerky and brand manager of new ventures for Kellogg

“My hope is that we fill a vegan need for a delicious, savory protein snack and provide an easy way to incorporate more plant protein for people looking to reduce their meat consumption.”

In addition to being featured at Expo East, held Sept. 12-14 in Baltimore, Leaf Jerky is launching in test markets later this year. A broader roll-out is planned for 2020.

“We are planning an omni-channel launch for Leaf Jerky so we can meet our consumers in the occasions where they are looking for on-the-go portable protein to get them through to their next meal,” Ms. Shouldice said. “We are designing packaging to meet these different channel and occasions needs.”

Kellogg has firm footing in the burgeoning meat alternative market with its MorningStar Farms brand. Earlier in September, the company announced the launch of Incogmeato by MorningStar Farms, the brand’s first ready-to-cook plant-based burger to be sold in the refrigerated meat case and frozen, fully prepared plant-based Chik’n tenders and nuggets. Leaf Jerky adds opportunities for new plant-based consumption occasions