Fake meat poses a real threat

PROTEIN: Pea protein burger on its way to North American consumers. (Photo: Lightlife)

A Canadian-owned company is introducing a plant-based burger that it says delivers the sensory experience consumers crave from a beef burger.

Massachusetts-based Lightlife Foods is owned by Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods, which says on its web site “we are making real food with real ingredients”.

Lightlife says the burger is pea-protein-based and free of GMOs, gluten, soy and artificial flavours.

The burger is joined by a ground protein product, bratwurst sausage, and Italian sausage.

The new line marks Lightlife’s most significant innovation launch and consumer campaign since its founding in 1979.

“The new line offers the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of traditional meat, but is made of plants, giving you a familiar taste that fills you up without weighing you – or the planet – down,” the company says.

The Lightlife burger has 20 grams of pea protein with no cholesterol and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat in a quarter-pound patty. Lightlife compares this to 80 grams of cholesterol and 9.3 grams of saturated fat in a quarter-pound patty made from beef.

It contains no animal hormones or antibiotics, but more iron and protein than in a traditional beef burger.

The fake burger’s ingredients include virgin coconut oil and beet powder.

The company is not averse to seeking to guilt meat eaters into buying the fake stuff.

“When you choose plant protein, you’re not just making a healthier choice for you – you’re making a healthier choice for our planet,” it says.

Lightlife Foods was founded in 1979 and was acquired by ConAgra Foods in 2000, and then Brynwood Partners in 2013. Maple Leaf Foods bought it for US$140 million (£106.4 million) in 2017.

Lightlife Foods president Dan Curtin says the company knows taste is a priority for all consumers.

“We know we’ll be serving up an entirely better experience for consumers who want a break from traditional meat or whose palates are craving a new adventure,” he says. “It’s not science – it’s just good food.”

The Lightlife Burger reaches US stores in late March, with the Canadian launch in April.


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