New alternative meat brand ADM plans entry into crowded US market

Supermarkets shelves are brimming with plant-based meat competitors trying to gain a bigger market share

Beyond Meat's products made from plant-based substitutes for meat displayed alongside ground beef for sale at a US supermarket. ADM is the latest alternative meat competitor planning to enter the US market. AFP
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US supermarkets can expect another plant-based meat competitor to squeeze on to shelves crowded by the likes of Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Tyson Foods brands.

Archer Daniels Midland Company plans to launch its first plant-based US portfolio through the PlantPlus Foods joint venture with Brazilian beef producer Marfrig Global Foods in the first quarter, according to Global Foods head Leticia Goncalves of ADM’s nutrition unit.

While details have not been disclosed, the executive said the firm’s strategy differs from what it did in Latin America by going beyond conventional meatless products such as veggie meatballs and burgers.

“Americans are open to new formats that don’t exist in the animal-protein segment, like meals prepared with plant-protein ingredients,” Ms Goncalves said in an interview.

Besides the retail market, the strategy is to extend to food services in the US, where many restaurants have not only one meatless item but an entire plant-based menu, she said.

The $10-billion global plant protein industry is forecast to triple during the next decade, with the world’s biggest meat producers, including JBS and Tyson, increasingly becoming involved in a growing market dominated by alt-meat companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

More than half of conventional meat consumers are diversifying to alternative proteins, according to research from ADM, which has turned its focus to the segment as a way to diversify from its volatile legacy business of buying and shipping crops.

The Chicago-based company is also working to expand its alt-meat business outside the Americas. ADM has talked with potential partners in Europe to not only provide ingredients or technology for plant-based products, but also to make goods that local food companies can sell under their own brand.

“We are working with all the big meat producers in Europe in the same way we started in the past with Marfrig,” she said, adding that there are no short-term plans to set up any plant-based joint venture in Europe.

ADM has ultimate plans to expand its presence on shelves outside Latin America and the US with its own brand, although the main business is still supplying solutions and ingredients to clients that produce their final products.

“We are exploring potential partners for the future,” she said. “We are first making PlantPlus to be a success in Americas before taking this step.”

The PlantPlus Foods partnership was approved by regulators about a year ago and the first products started selling in May in Latin American supermarkets and to clients including sandwich chain Subway and Outback restaurants.

The joint venture has experienced double-digit sales growth each month since its launch, following the growth in the region’s overall alternative-meat market, according Roberto Ciciliano, head of ADM Nutrition in Latin America.

Updated: September 19, 2021, 4:30 AM