Hormel Foods Corp—one of the largest meat companies in the United States—is developing a vegan meat pizza topping along with other plant-based foods. The company revealed that it is looking to “innovate, not imitate” in the plant-based space during its presentation at the dbAccess Global Consumer Conference where Hormel CEO Jim Snee and its Executive Vice President Thomas Day were both asked separate questions about the topic, prompted by the success vegan brand Beyond Meat has had since becoming a publicly traded company on NASDAQ last month. “So, plant-based proteins aren’t new to our organization,” Snee said. “We’ve been working on that in multiple channels the last several years. In our foodservice organization, we’ve introduced an item we call the Fuse Burger, which is more of a blend with meat and some plant-based items.” Snee also explained that Hormel brand Applegate recently introduced the Blend Burger, a meat-based patty that contains mushrooms. “Then we also have our Burke organization, which is really a foodservice company … they’re working on a plant-based pizza topping,” Snee continued. “So in addition to that, we also have some innovative retail initiatives that we’re working on, that we haven’t been very public about. But it’s something that is certainly on our minds like everybody else, and there’s a lot of work happening both in the marketplace and behind the scenes.” In addition to Hormel, a number of non-vegan companies are entering the lucrative plant-based meat industry. In April, Nestle’s Incredible Burger—a vegan patty it will debut in the United States in the fall under its Sweet Earth brand as the Awesome Burger—debuted on the menu as The Big Vegan TS at McDonald’s Germany. By the end of this year, Hormel competitor Tyson Foods—a former investor in Beyond Meat—aims to debut its own line of vegan meat and, according to CEO Noel White, plans to do so “in a significant way.”

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