While not every product launched since the acquisition has been a hit (POGO bars​ – Sweet Earth’s first foray into the snacks aisle – are being discontinued), Nestlé is pretty happy with the performance of its flagship Awesome Burger​, the formula for which has recently been tweaked to “improve the meaty flavor and texture.”

FNU: What’s happened on the R&D front since Nestlé acquired Sweet Earth​ in 2017?

RR: Initially I worked with the Sweet Earth team to transition their products to different manufacturing locations​ [Sweet Earth has a plant in Moss Landing, CA, but some products are now manufactured at other sites within the Nestlé USA network] so we could expand production, but over the past couple of years I’ve been innovating brand new products.

Since the acquisition, we’ve launched 46 new products and just this year we have 19 new products featuring plant-based proteins, from our new burritos and entrée bowls with Mindful Chik’n to Awesome Grounds.

It’s been a great partnership where we’ve learned from each other, so they bring the culinary knowledge about plant-based foods and the passionate consumer base, and all of these innovative products, and Nestlé brings the research, the distribution and the manufacturing expertise. Distribution of Sweet Earth products has nearly doubled since Nestle acquired the brand.

I’m really excited about our new Awesome Bacon Burger​ [a smoky plant-based burger made with pea and wheat protein infused with vegan bacon bits] and our pea protein based Green Chile Chedd’r sausage ​[with vegan ‘chedd’r’ from coconut oil and potato- and tapioca-starch] and Chik’n Apple Sausage​ 

From the Awesome Burger to Chik’n Apple Sausages … Plant-based R&D with Nestlé Sweet Earth

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