A new product line that's freshly hitting the market is PROPASTATM from Nepra Foods (CSE:NPRA) (OTC:NPRFF)—a company that completed an oversubscribed IPO in Canada and recently entered the US market under OTC symbol NPRFF. Key members of the Nepra Foods team have achieved CPG success in the past, after building up the Udi's Gluten Free Foods brand to the point of selling to what is now Conagra Brands, Inc. (NYSE:CAG)for US$125 million.
Nepra's first SKU released under the ready-to-eat PROPASTATM line will be Spaghetti and Meatballs. The product's meatballs are a beef analogue made from Nepra Foods' proprietary Textured Hemp Proteins (THP)TM, while the high-protein pasta noodles also use hemp flour as the base.
"Our PROPASTA™ line is truly revolutionary," says Nepra CEO David Wood. "Not many frozen food brands are plant-based, gluten-free, allergen-free, high-protein, and low-carb. Spaghetti and meatballs is a universally beloved dish, so it was a natural choice for our introductory product. It also demonstrates the power of hemp protein to transform foods, as our meal's taste and textures are uncompromised when reinventing the traditional meat-based, gluten-heavy spaghetti and meatballs."
Hemp is superior to other vegetable proteins, being both higher in protein and containing all 20 essential amino acids, while requiring no pesticides to grow, and being easier to digest and 100% allergen-free.
It has a neutral taste and color, allowing hemp to more closely mimic the foods it was designed to replace--like ground beef--without the "off" flavor sometimes associated with other plant proteins.
Hence, because of its use of hemp protein, the PROPASTATM product line becomes one of the only frozen meal options on the market that is plant-based, high-protein, gluten-free, and completely allergen-free, thus well positioning it to redefine the frozen food landscape.
As part of its phased growth strategy, Nepra Foods (CSE:NPRA) signed a 10-year lease on a new 31,000 square foot facility, with major construction underway to increase manufacturing output and expedite the development of innovative new products.
Nepra's research and development has already produced a wide array of proprietary hemp-base proteins, that are included in their current consumer marketed plant-based meats, dairy alternatives, and baked snacks, and are also sold as B2B ingredients.
In particular, the facility will allow for expansion within the other established B2B categories, including Essential Blends™, Essential Flours™, and Rheoflex®. Nepra is also targeting alternative sweeteners, alternative chocolates, and fermented foods for future development.
Additional production facilities are being constructed for a custom dry ingredient blending facility for existing B2B customers who use Nepra's ingredients as well as blends for Nepra's proprietary consumer branded products.
Another company that's developing new product options is plant-based dairy alternative innovators Oatly Group AB (NASDAQ:OTLY), which recently announced it opened its first Chinese factory. Known as the Ma'anshan production facility, at full capacity it has the potential to annually produce an estimated 150 million liters of oat-based products.
"The Chinese market is an important part of Oatly's global expansion, and the Chinese people play a big part in shifting towards a more sustainable and mainstream plant-based consumption," said Oatly CEO, Toni Petersson. "We are confident in the continued growth of the Chinese market and that the new Chinese factory will accelerate our mission to drive a societal shift towards a plant-based food system for the benefit of people and the planet."
Oatly also recently launched its newest product, non-dairy frozen dessert bars, set to hit US stores beginning in December.
"Our new non-dairy frozen dessert bars are fantastic, and I can't wait for people to try them," said Mike Messersmith, President, Oatly North America. "We're proving that oatmilk is not just for coffee, cereal or cooking, but can also be the foundation for great-tasting treats to be enjoyed during celebration moments or when a pick-me-up reward is needed."
In its most recent earning discussion, Conagra Brands, Inc. (NYSE:CAG) didn't mention its Gardein brand, have been happy with the 33.5% increase in retail sales for its plant-based meat products or the plant-based sector. However, earlier this year, the company said the brand's sales were being fueled by "growth that is coming from meat eaters in this space."
"Meat eaters represent 95% of the total population and represent almost 80% of buyers of the plant-based meat alternative category, and their growth rates in terms of both new buyers and dollar spend is also outpacing that of vegan and vegetarian counterparts," said Ashley Lind, senior director, consumer insights, predictive science at Conagra Brands in an interview with FoodNavigator-USA. "We expect to see plant-based opportunities to grow in foodservice as the overall industry rebounds, and we're seeing Gardein gain share in the space."
Gardein is the number two player in the frozen meat alternative category, behind the Kellogg Company's (NYSE:K) Morningstar Farms brand. However, unlike Conagra, executives from Kellogg actually mentioned MorningStar Farms by name.
"Yet another big brand with close to $900 million in retail sales in the U.S., continuing to grow [is] Morningstar Farms, our leading plant-based proteins brand," said Steven Cahillane, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Kellogg. "This is another world-class brand that is sustaining strong consumption growth even as the category decelerates as expected and even as we run up against capacity limits in some of our product segments."
Earlier this summer, Kellogg combined its signature Eggo Waffle brand with MorningStar Farms' Incogmeato line, to make the company's first plant-based alternative to their classic chicken and waffles dish.
Emerging sector leader Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) recently had to recover from a 19% drop in its shares after its Q4 2021 revenue forecast fell short of estimates.
"Although we see continued uncertainty for the balance of this year…" said Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown. "We look to 2022 with enthusiasm as we expect to bring to life, together with our strategic partners, product and production capacity that we've been steadfastly investing in throughout the pandemic."
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