In the beginning, there was the veggie burger. And it was... not so good. Then came Beyond Meat. And it was better. And then came Impossible Foods, followed by the Impossible Whopper. And Big Food saw that all this was generating lots of buzz and said, “Lo, we should get in on that.” So earlier this month, Kellogg announced its own fake meat, which it improbably decided to call Incogmeato. And now, at last, Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, has joined the fray with the Awesome Burger, which has already begun shipping to grocery stores. Surely the world’s biggest food company has the resources to come up with a better name?
This in-depth piece from CNN doesn’t delve into this issue. Instead it talks about how, since Nestlé is so enormous (308,000 employees worldwide), it’s likely to avoid the steep losses and staffing and supply-chain issues that have made expansion so difficult for startups like Impossible and Beyond. (It helps that Nestlé isn’t building its fake meat division from the ground up but instead taking over Sweet Earth, a California-based company.) It will also be good for Nestlé’s PR department: Earlier this year, the company had to deal with allegations of animal cruelty at one of its suppliers and it continues to face criticism from activists for producing its bottled water.
The Awesome Burger is made of pea protein, coconut oil, wheat gluten and canola oil. It has more protein and fiber and less fat than actual beef or its fake-beef competitors. I saw the Awesome Burger for myself at Foodscape, a food innovation expo I attended yesterday afternoon. I didn’t have a chance to taste it, but by sight, I would not confuse it with an actual patty of ground beef. But that’s the great thing about burgers: Put enough stuff on them, and the meat doesn’t matter as much.