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Meat-free nuggets: McCain jumps on plant-based trend via partnership with NY start-up NUGGS

Canadian multinational McCain Foods has entered a new strategic partnership with NUGGS, a New York-based start-up that has developed a plant-based chicken nugget alternative. The NUGGS meatless chicken nuggets are marketed as a close simulation of traditional chicken nuggets in texture and flavor but higher in protein and lower in calories.

The partnership combines NUGGS novel textured pea protein technology with McCain’s production and commercial capabilities to accelerate the brand’s growth and deliver market scale, according to the company.

Plant-based foods are currently trending as a potential solution to significantly mitigate environmental decline and stem the rapid onset of climate change which is impacted by meat production, and this is adjunctly influencing NPD in companies seeking to green-up their portfolio.

Innova Market Insights data shows that meat substitutes accounted for 11 percent of new meat product launches (meat, poultry and meat substitutes) reported in Europe in 2018, up from 9 percent in 2013. The global picture shows stronger growth, with 14 percent of meat launches in 2018 being meat alternatives, compared to 6 percent in 2013.

NUGGS’ R&D process is based on a “unique iterative methodology,” whereby the product is constantly improved based on continuous consumer feedback.

“The NUGGS teams approach to fast, iterative innovation, based on constant consumer feedback is a great way to create products people love”, says Mauro Pennella, Chief Growth Officer at McCain Foods. This month, McCain reported annual sales in excess of CDN$9.5 billion (US$7.3 billion).

Other recent investments made by McCain in the area of sustainable food and farming technology include the 2018 investments in TruLeaf (pesticide-free vertical farming of leafy greens) and Resson (predictive data analytics for agriculture), both based in Canada.

This week, McCain has had its first entrance to the food top 10 list published by independent brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance, following a 25 percent increase in brand value to US$4.7 billion. (Will link to Katherine’s article)

The plant-based meat alternatives space is experiencing exponential growth. In this context, Dutch vegan textured ingredients manufacturer Meatless recently announced a major investment program to triple production capacity in the next two years and to shift a large part of its energy requirement towards renewable energy. Specializing in plant-based fish and chicken analogs, the company will invest €1.7 million in a two-year scheme.

Earlier this month, Royal DSM (DSM) joined forces with French agro-industrial group Avril to develop a new plant protein based on non-GMO canola, coined CanolaPRO, expected to hit the commercial market by the end of 2021. According to DSM, the vegan protein variety offers a very high nutritional quality, is easy to digest and contains all the essential amino acids for muscle growth and body maintenance in an optimal ratio.



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