Past Hen is formally again.
Past Meat is reintroducing a breaded rooster tender product at present at a whole lot of foodservice retailers nationwide. The brand new formulation is the results of greater than a decade of R&D work, and makes use of fava bean protein as its most important plant-based ingredient. Dariush Ajami, chief innovation officer at Past Meat, mentioned this new product mimics the feel, juiciness, style and crispness of rooster, and scored on par with meat-based rooster tenders in shopper style assessments.
“Past Meat has invested closely in our R&D program,” Ajami mentioned. “Our scientists have an excellent understanding of animal product on the molecular degree. But in addition, the product that we have now, we perceive the hole between the 2. By means of the method that we have now … Past Meat has relentless innovation, and we attempt to shut that hole.”
Past Meat truly obtained its begin with a plant-based rooster product launched at retail in 2012. That product was quietly discontinued in 2019, and the corporate mentioned on the time it was working to enhance on the plant-based rooster expertise.
The brand new Past Hen Tenders have utterly modified the system and manufacturing technique of the earlier Hen Strips, which had been made out of extruded elements together with soy powder, gluten-free flour and carrot protein. The brand new tenders, that are breaded — in contrast to their predecessors — have 14 grams of protein per serving and 40% much less saturated fats than the main meat-based foodservice rooster tender, the corporate mentioned.
A part of this dietary profile comes from the selection of fava bean as the bottom protein within the product. Ajami mentioned Past Meat’s expertise permits it to create texturized and juicy merchandise from all kinds of plant proteins. Contemplating that there are various plant-based rooster merchandise available on the market, Ajami mentioned Past Meat needed to make use of a special form of protein to set it aside from rivals and to make the most of the corporate’s capabilities.
Fava beans are a extremely sustainable crop, which is one other key motive Past Meat was drawn to utilizing them for its rooster, Ajami mentioned. Fava beans can also develop in colder climate, and they’re identified for including vitamins, together with nitrogen, to soil. Past Meat additionally makes use of fava bean protein as a part of the mix in its dinner sausage merchandise. Fava bean protein does have a definite style, however Ajami mentioned that it enhances flavoring to masks off-tastes and amp up the rooster style.
Whereas Past Meat has been creating plant-based rooster merchandise over the previous few years, with limited-time choices at KFC eating places in Atlanta, North Carolina, Tennessee and Southern California, the brand new Past Hen Tenders are a totally totally different product. KFC’s menu merchandise was designed to duplicate a whole-muscle rooster breast piece, the corporate mentioned. In February, Past Meat introduced a strategic cope with the restaurant chain’s mother or father firm Yum Manufacturers that features the co-creation of unique menu gadgets at KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut throughout the subsequent a number of years.
These new rooster tenders are launching in foodservice solely in the intervening time, however Past Meat mentioned there can be a retail plant-based rooster product “within the close to future.”
Evidently rooster various choices are rising rapidly in 2021, with quite a few retail and foodservice launches — together with plans for Quorn’s fermented rooster analog to make an enormous push into U.S. eating places this yr. However Past Meat mentioned it is not making an attempt to leap on a pattern. The corporate has been working to excellent a rooster product for years, and now’s the suitable time for the launch, a spokesperson mentioned. Nonetheless, the timing is extraordinarily validating, the corporate mentioned, as demand for rooster and plant-based merchandise usually is accelerating.
The broad relaunch of Past Hen is one thing that has been anxiously awaited for years, and this announcement has been teased for months. In April, Bloomberg reported that the corporate began telling clients it was launching a brand new rooster product this summer season. And in Could, Past Hen Tenders received a 2021 FABI Award from the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation for being among the best new improvements. A Past Meat spokesperson mentioned in an e-mail that the tenders are a flexible product to broaden the corporate’s foodservice attain. They work nicely in locations the place rooster tenders are on the menu, and can be utilized in merchandise similar to sandwiches and tacos.
The corporate mentioned the pandemic made customers usually extra excited about all types of plant-based meat due to the well being and environmental impacts of the standard meat trade. And as america strikes previous the COVID-19 peak, diners are returning to eating places. Firstly of the pandemic, solely 12% of the corporate’s gross sales got here from foodservice, the corporate mentioned. Within the first quarter of 2021, that elevated to 25%.
For all of its merchandise, Past Meat continues the event course of after launch to make enhancements. For instance, the corporate debuted a complete reformulation of its signature Past Burger product in Could that lower the fats and energy.
“Now we have devoted plenty of sources to this sector,” Ajami mentioned. “There is a tight collaboration with our companions and we’ll see suggestions from cooks, the individuals that really make this for [the] shopper, and the group right here will regulate to fulfill [them].”