In the battle to create the best plant-based burger, Beyond Meat just fired a shot. The company has reformulated its Beyond Burger, making it meatier and better looking, with “marbling” to emulate the fat in traditional burgers. The new formulation is rolling out to grocery stores this week.
Beyond, like its competitor, the Impossible Burger, had previously engineered a burger that “bleeds” — it has beet juice that gives the alternative protein the characteristic pink of a ground beef burger. Both burgers were a breakthrough in the fake meat world, where previous veggie burgers were derided as tasteless pucks. If the goal is to get humans to eat less meat — for their health and the health of the planet — making a burger that simulates the taste and texture of meat is critical in winning converts.
A marbled plant-based burger is a step further in that direction. Where do those white fatty flecks come from? The company has added bits of coconut oil and cocoa butter, which melt into the burger when it’s grilled, and give it a juicier flavor. It has also added mung bean and rice proteins to the formula, which also includes pea protein. The additions give the burger more fiber and protein. It also has a “more neutral flavor and aroma profile,” according to a news release; some buyers had previously complained that the burger had a foul odor when cooked. The burger still has the beet juice, but it’s less pink on the inside, and it turns browner when it cooks — a change made possible by an apple extract.
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