PARIS — Nestle S.A.’s Incredible Burger, made from soy and wheat protein and available under the Garden Gourmet label, is “creating a big buzz,” said Marco Settembri, executive vice-president and chief executive officer of Nestle’s Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA) business.
In a June 11 presentation at the Deutsche Bank dbAccess Global Consumer Conference in Paris, Mr. Settembri described the growth of the Incredible Burger from its concept and study phase in Israel to roll-out in Europe in April to its possible broader expansion worldwide.
“Everybody wants to have better food, but also better means tasty but also healthier food,” Mr. Settembri said. “So what consumers and what we in our consumer insight (are) looking for is something different, but while (you) continue to keep eating what you usually eat. And plant protein and meat, or let’s say meat look-alike products, … are really growing quite substantially.”
While Nestle’s portfolio includes Herta sausages and ham, Mr. Settembri does not see cannibalization with the launch of Incredible Burger and similar products.
“We are not really in the meat business,” he said. “We are in the solutions business. … This will complement perfectly, I would say, our current ambient pizza dough, sausage, that we have.”
As demand for plant-based products grows, manufacturers are getting a boost from the quick-service restaurant industry. In the case of the Incredible Burger, the product has received initial good response to a roll-out in McDonald’s restaurants in Germany, where it is marketed as the “Big Vegan TS.” But Nestle has eyes on expansion beyond McDonald’s.
“McDonald’s is an exciting and big customer, but it’s not the only option, and we have quite good capacity to cope with an eventual expansion beyond Germany,” Mr. Settembri said.
He noted that any plans to expand the availability of the Incredible Burger will be done carefully.
“We really need to plan it, and we need to do it well,” he said of any potential broader roll-out of the Incredible Burger. “We have also other operators in out-of-home. So we are working a lot also in our direct distribution with other operators in channels and communities. Then also in retail. Retail is also quite an important business for us, as you know. Also, it’s our strength, historical strength.”