Rustlers, the £111.6m*1 chilled ready meals brand from Kepak, has announced plans to launch a meat mimicking burger.

These plans tap into the rapid growth of the meat-free category as flexitarians look for ways to cut back on their meat consumption.

With these consumers still enjoying the taste of meat, a meat mimicking burger looks set to be a winner.

Adrian Lawlor CMO of Kepak Group, talks to Grocery Trader about the incremental sales Rustlers’ latest product offers and how retailers can seize the opportunity to make more money from the category with convenient, tasty options at accessible price points.

How much is the meat-free market worth? Is the market in growth? What is driving the growth?

The meat-free category is worth £648.4m and is in over 20% growth*2. This huge growth is set to continue with 27% of consumers who have never purchased a free from/alternative product planning to do so in future*3.

We also know that the rapidly accelerated growth of the category is being driven by flexitarians as consumers seek to reduce their meat intake rather than replace it. This highlights the opportunity for leading brands such as Rustlers to sit within the plant based category and offer alternatives to bestselling products.

Why meat mimicking?

Insight tells us that meat reducers still enjoy the taste of meat, therefore a brand recognised for taste and convenience can offer assurance that it can deliver on these creds with a non-meat offer. Equally many more recent vegetarians miss the taste of meat, so a brand with clear creds such as Rustlers is seen as having the credibility to meaningfully mimic not just the taste, but also the look and texture of meat.

‘Meatless Maverick’ provides an easy swap while behaviourally fitting existing habits, therefore requiring less of a conscious shift while delivering on satisfying taste and convenience credentials.

Tell us about Rustlers’ Meat Mimicking product. What is it made from?

It’s made with pea protein. The Rustlers ‘Meatless Maverick’ will mimic our bestselling SKU, the Quarter Pounder, complete with our ‘signature sauce’. It also includes a dairy cheese slice, so it is not a Vegan product, but this was the route that best replicated our hero SKU which was our goal for Meatless Maverick. The product has delivered on par with our hero product in sensory testing, on the back of a lot of great work done by our development team.

The most exciting part for us is that amongst 18-24’s – our key audience with whom the brand scores highly – Meatless Maverick has higher concept appeal than the master brand. Therefore, with this launch, we will increase our already high relevance with the age cohort that will be our future.

Has there been a lack of products in the meat-free market that meet the demand for convenience?

Convenience remains a significant challenge when following a specific dietary lifestyle. 55% found finding convenience food for snacking/eating on the go a challenge after initially committing to a meat-free diet.

How is Rustlers’ latest launch, the Meatless Maverick, filling that convenience gap?

Our research shows there is a perception that products within the meat free category require long cooking times with not much in the way of tasty, quick and treat options. Meatless Maverick will offer a meat free alternative to Rustlers whilst bringing the taste, convenience and quality credentials associated with the brand to the moderate meat reducers, committed meat reducers and moderate vegetarians.

Has it been a challenge to make a product that is tasty, but still meets demand for a meat-free product?

The fact so few convenient options are readily available within a £648.4m category shows it was never going to be easy! We’re launching our new foray into the world of alternative protein after an 18 month product and brand development project supported by extensive consumer research, and we’re really excited about the prospects.

What is the RRP and case size and what channels will the Meatless Maverick be available through?

Meatless Maverick launched last month in Tesco, Booker and One Stop in November (RRP £2, case size 4). Kepak also recognise price is a crucial factor in any shoppers purchase decision: “Meat mimicking products tend to carry a price premium vs the equivalent meat version, which acts as a deterrent. The Meatless Maverick burger is available at the same accessible price point as our meat products (£2 RRP), appealing to the 52% of people who find affordability a challenge when committing to a food lifestyle*3.

What marketing support do you have lined up for the Meatless Maverick?

We’re keen to bring the taste creds Rustlers has established in meat to meat free. To support this, the positioning we have developed is bold and provocative and true to the brands personality – any attempt by a meat brand to be ‘too worthy’ in the world of meat free simply would not be credible.

We’ll be supporting the launch through the line over the next 12 months under the master brand advertising strategy “Better than you think” which we successfully launched last year.

Those interested in stocking the new meat mimicking product from Rustlers can find out more at, @kepaktrade or by calling 01772 688 300. 18


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