Vegetarian burger with cucumber, tomato and lettuce (Shutterstock/Gaus Alex)
Nestle SA is tweaking the recipe of its vegetarian burgers after half a year on the market amid stiffening competition for meat substitutes.
Garden Gourmet Incredible Burgers will be juicier and have more of a grilled-beef flavor, the Swiss food giant said Friday. Nestle will also launch a ground beef alternative called Garden Gourmet Incredible Mince in Austria, Germany, Norway and Sweden next month. The soy-based product can be molded into meatballs and cooks up like raw beef.
Nestle Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider is revamping the company’s faux-meat offering as a wave of upstart competitors including Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc. enters the mainstream. He’s been pushing Nestle managers to accelerate development of products like the Incredible Burger and accept the risk that they may need reworking.
Beyond Meat has stormed into fast-food and high volume catering in collaborations with Tim Hortons, Dunkin’ Donuts and Aramark. Closely held Impossible Foods’s burger is on menus at some 10,000 restaurants -- including White Castle, Red Robin and Burger King, according to the company.
Nestle started selling Incredible Burgers in Europe in April and aims to introduce a version called the Awesome Burger for the U.S. market this fall. The company declined to comment on the outlook for expanding its relationship with McDonald’s Corp., which sells Incredible Burgers in Germany.
The Incredible Burger has yet to come to the U.K., one of the most promising markets for meat substitutes, according to Wayne England, head of Nestle’s food business. Nestle ended a test of other Garden Gourmet items in Britain with a customer it didn’t identify earlier this year, and it no longer sells the line of products in the U.K., according to a spokesman.