Coles introduces a new range of plant-based meats – and the Byron Bay chef behind it says it's more new-age than Beyond Meat

Source: supplied.
  • Aussie food manaufacturer Soulfresh’s Eaty range of plant-based meat alternatives has been added to all Coles Stores.
  • Soulfresh CEO Didi Lo told Business Insider Australia the range is the “fifth generation in meat analogues” and claims it is more advanced than the bleeding meat alternatives like Beyond Meat currently trending heavily in the US.
  • The battle for market dominance by alternative meat makers will be won by whoever has the most meat-like texture, Lo said.

Aussie food manaufacturer Soulfresh’s Eaty range of plant-based meats has been added to all Coles stores — and “rubbery, bland” vegan sausages could be a thing of the past as a result, according to the company’s CEO.

Eaty’s new “ready-to-eat” and “BBQ Classics” products have been been picked up by Coles after selling out in independent supermarkets in June, a Soulfresh spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider Australia. The range includes pea and bean protein-based meals like “Italian beef meatballs”, “pork snags” and “Thai green chicken curry”.

Soulfresh CEO Didi Lo — a formerly Byron Bay-based chef who founded the company 15 years ago after, sensing the rising demand for organic and plant-based foods among mainstream Australians — said the Coles deal is a big deal.

“The interest in plant-based meats in Australia is huge,” Lo told Business Insider Australia. “With more than 10 million Australians opting to go meat free at least one day a week, it is not surprising that major supermarkets are offering more choice to consumers in this space.”

The Eaty range’s recipe was discovered using “cutting edge food technology involving heat pressure and water”, Lo said, and has the same amount of protein as meat equivalents.

The new addition for Coles comes as alternative meat manufacturers around the world are killing it — and none more so than California-based Beyond Meat, which has seen a 734% surge in its stock price since going public in May. Its CEO Ethan Brown even recently called his company a “movement”.

For Lo, the battle for market dominance in the increasingly competitive meat alternative industry will come down to one element: texture.

“The biggest barrier for consumers to eating these types of products has always been texture,” he said. “Soulfresh has been developing the plant-based meats for the last 3 years to overcome this.”

Asked whether he is inspired by the success of Beyond Meat, Lo claimed his products are even more advanced than those of the US plant-based brand.

“Eaty is what we consider to be fifth generation in meat analogues taking traditionally short fibre vegetables and creating a great textured replacement for meat, with the same protein levels as its meat counterparts,” Lo said.

“This differs to the fourth generation of raw ‘bleeding’ meats which are currently available on the market, which require cooking and do not provide the same convenience.”

Beyond Meat and its rival Impossible Burger have found their success by creating “bleeding meat” that replicates the taste, smell and texture of real beef and caters to the meat-eating crowd, obsessed with bleeding beef that cooks to perfection.

With a 700%-plus stock price increase, they don’t appear to be concerned with convenience or microwaveable food, and probably wouldn’t agree with the characterisation of their products as being of a previous generation.

Even if Lo doesn’t have quite the same objectives as Beyond Meat, he’ll be hoping Eaty can attract some of the same kind of brand love.

“Australians are very educated consumers and the considerable environmental, ethical and health implications of consuming meat and dairy products is clearly having an impact on how Australian consumers are shopping,” Lo said.

Sounds like a movement to me.

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