Tyson, White Castle executives see plant protein diversifying
By Jeff Gelski, Food Business News
GLADSTONE, MO. — Executives from Tyson Foods, Inc. and White Castle in a Sept. 13 webinar said they see their companies as not only players but leaders in the meat alternatives category. The Gladstone-based Center for Food Integrity, which has a mission of helping companies earn consumer trust, put on the webinar.
“We’re clearly seeing a tipping point of consumer acceptance within this space,” said David Ervin, vice-president of alternative protein for Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark.
Scale will be a Tyson benefit in meat alternatives, he said.
“We have quite a bit of supply relationships that we have access to, and we have a processing power to bring this important initiative to the masses and really look at this in a way that can be cost-efficient and still deliver what customers are looking for,” he said.
Tyson has introduced a Raised & Rooted brand that features plant-based nuggets as well as blended burgers made with a combination of beef and plants. Tyson uses pea protein in its meat alternatives. Supply of peas is not a problem, but processing, which extracts the protein isolates out of the peas, takes work, Mr. Ervin said.
“The supply is there,” Mr. Ervin said. “I think the processing will get there quickly, and we are just going to have to marry those two.”
Mr. Ervin said he has noticed conversations concerning questions about the amount of processing needed to produce meat alternatives.
“It’s one that we’ll continue to watch and understand,” he said. “The other side of it is, with taste being so important, in order to get that taste, there are certain things that need to happen in order for us to develop that (taste). The No. 1 driver is really going to be taste.”
Tyson is aware of other possible sources for meat alternatives, including cell-based meat.
“We’ll see how that continues to unfold,” Mr. Ervin said.
Algae and other protein sources, including insects, are other options.
“That’s the one I’m always a bit cautious of, at least from a U.S. perspective,” he said of insect protein.
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