MOSS LANDING, CALIF. – Sweet Earth Foods, a Nestle brand, is expanding with the introduction of a shredded format to its plant-based Mindful Chik’n banner and the addition of new flavors. The launch builds on the company’s launch of its Mindful Chik’n strips in 2019.
“Shredded products, pulled meat, are something fans of barbecue know as being delicious,” said Ryan Riddle, a senior product development specialist with Nestle. “It’s a different way to eat meat and now we have a way to get the flavor of chicken with a pulled meat texture to consumers. It can work with a barbecue chicken sandwich, tortilla soup or tacos.”
The shredded format will come in two flavors, seasoned Chik’n and Korean BBQ. The company also is adding a seasoned chipotle flavor to the Chik’n strips application.
Mr. Riddle said replicating the texture of meat is critical to the success of plant-based alternatives.
“We have the technology to texturize the protein,” he said. “We’ve taken the plant-based recipe expertise of Sweet Earth and shared it with the food technology experts who are a part of our Nestle network.”
Beyond saying the company is using extrusion technology to achieve the texture, Mr. Riddle said the process is proprietary.
“There’s a lot more technology and process that I can’t go into too much detail about,” he said.
The additions to the Sweet Earth line are in recognition to the fact there is a global acceleration to eating more plant-based foods, Mr. Riddle said.
“The great thing about Nestle is we're not looking at the technologies of today and tomorrow, but 5 to 10 years from now,” he said. “We are making big investments in the plant-based protein space. We're focusing our resources on developing plant-based products and are able to innovate quickly.”
Mr. Riddle said he sees the pace of innovation accelerating and that it will continue to accelerate.
“We used to develop products for years until the product was perfect,” he said. “One of the downsides was you could come to market too late and miss the opportunity. Today, we're bringing consumers along for the entire journey; we're talking to them throughout the process, and I think that makes us better.”
With the addition of the shredded format, Sweet Earth Foods is growing the diversity of its portfolio. Plant-based product applications range from bowls, burritos, pizza, burgers and grounds, delis slices, sausages and snacks.
“Sweet Earth is all about variety,” Mr. Riddle said. “We’re offering people different kinds of plant-based products in different flavors from around the world.
“At the end of the day it’s about meeting people where they are. They want to eat plant-based and we’re giving them different options.”