How Kraft Heinz’s Vegan Hot Dogs and Sausages Differ From the Rest

How Kraft Heinz’s Vegan Hot Dogs and Sausages Differ From the Rest

Oscar Mayer's NotHotDogs will come in bun-sized lengths, while the NotSausages will be offered in both Bratwurst and Italian flavors. Photo courtesy of The Kraft Heinz Not Company.

Last week, The Kraft Heinz Company made waves in the food industry by introducing vegan hot dogs and sausages under its well-known Oscar Mayer brand. This significant move marks the brand’s first foray into the plant-based arena with its NotHotDogs and NotSausages. 

The new offerings were developed in collaboration with NotCo, a Chilean food-tech firm renowned for its AI-driven approach to crafting plant-based food solutions. The products contain ingredients like bamboo fiber, pea protein and mushrooms. Additionally, the offerings have the distinctive “snap” of the outer casing and the savory smokiness of Oscar Mayer products.

This initiative is part of a broader rollout of plant-based products by The Kraft Heinz Not Company. Past offerings include KRAFT NotMac&Cheese and KRAFT NotCheese Slices, which address a growing consumer demand for plant-based alternatives.

“We know people are hungry for plant-based meat options from brands they know and trust,” said Lucho Lopez-May, CEO of The Kraft Heinz Not Company, in a press release. “In launching the joint venture’s first product in the plant-based meat category, we saw an opportunity to satisfy these consumer cravings, leveraging NotCo’s revolutionary AI technology and the power, equity and legacy of the Oscar Mayer brand.”

Related: 3D Printed Fish: Steakholder Foods Unveils Plant-Based Shrimp

Why Launch Vegan Hot Dogs Now?

Despite the enthusiasm, the introduction of these vegan hot dogs comes at a challenging time for sausage alternatives, which, like many alt-meat products, have seen a decline in retail sales. According to Circana’s data, the dollar sales for refrigerated dinner sausage alternatives saw a 21 percent decrease year-over-year, with volume sales down by 23.6 percent.

Concerns over price and dissatisfaction with taste and texture are factors affecting consumer adoption. Inflation has compounded the alt-meat sector’s difficulties, leading shoppers towards more economical meal options. These market challenges have led analysts to speculate about the timing of the vegan hot dogs launch. 

The price difference between traditional Oscar Mayer hot dogs and the new plant-based options is notable. Traditional Oscar Mayer bun-length hot dogs are priced at $4.99 for an eight-pack, in contrast to the plant-based version, which is available at $5.99 for a four-pack. This results in a difference of 88 cents per individual hot dog, potentially impacting consumer willingness to switch based on taste and texture expectations.

Looking Towards the Future of Plant-Based Foods

Despite the current market challenges, Kraft Heinz remains optimistic about the future of plant-based foods. Lopez-May highlighted the rapid growth of the plant-based sector and its expected expansion, projecting the US plant-based market to grow from $8.3 billion in 2023 to $19 billion by 2030.

Kraft Heinz is betting on AI-driven product development and Oscar Mayer’s strong brand presence to ensure the mainstream success of their vegan hot dogs and sausages. The company aims to attract flexitarian consumers looking for plant-based options that don’t compromise on taste, texture and variety.

Oscar Mayer’s NotHotDogs will come in bun-sized lengths, while the NotSausages will be offered in both Bratwurst and Italian flavors. These products are slated for a nationwide retail launch later this year, perfectly timed for the summer grilling season.

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