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Why buy a fake burger

By Staff | Dec 13, 2019

Whenever I go to Sioux Falls, SD, I make it a point to get a burger at Fuddruckers. I took my prospective son-in-law along who has trained in culinary school as a chef and he declared the burger to be one of the best he has ever had. I am in mourning as they closed the Fuddruckers in West DesMoines. My daughter in law is not a burger-fan but even she makes an exception for Fuddruckers. That is enough of a free commercial.

I fail to understand that when you have meat this good why anyone would opt for the fake stuff. There has been a fad toward alternatives, to meats competing with the real thing that has caused a lot of headlines but I have never heard anyone rave about the quality, flavor or value of one of these ‘beyond meat’ products as I just did for Fuddruckers.

No one is buying these fake burgers because they love them as a favorite food. They are something that some consumers are willing to put up with because of the myth that real meat is harmful to climate change. It is not the food but the hype that is selling alternative meats. No one is claiming, “These new plant burgers are fantastic…you just have to go get one.” They are something that resembles the food that they actually love, that they are trying for alternative reasons.

Typically, these types of marketing waves come and they go. These substitutes are not meat and never will be. They will not become mainstay of scale. They may supplement vegans which represent a small portion of consumers but it is doubtful that they will develop into their own category of consumers. Once consumers find how processed these fake meats are and that they are pricier than real meat, the enthusiasm will fade. A full pound of Impossible ground plant-based fake meat costs $12 while traditional 85/15 hamburger was featured at HyVee for $2.99/lb on special this week. You can often beat that in 10 pound tubes. Other brands of fake ground beef are cheaper but they failed in taste tests as imposters to ground beef. Even Chipotles rejected them because they are too processed for their brand.

McDonalds is testing a meatless burger in Canadian stores and say that they were pleased with the initial start off. They expected that. What McDonalds is skeptical of is continued demand after the notoriety and newness wears off. Can they charge enough to make money selling them? They think that consumers will try a meatless burger and then order the Big Mac or double quarter pounders when they come back. That would not make it worth adding to the permanent menu.

McDonalds intends to call it a veggie-burger which is more accurate. They are not sure that the “veggie burger” meets McDonald’s requirements for “clean ingredients.” McDonalds has made a push to get artificial stuff out of their food. That goes all the way back through their supply chains to how meat and eggs are produced.

These are the ingredients that you may find in a number of the new fake meat products:

– Ingredients: Water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavors, 2 percent or less of: potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, cultured dextrose, food starch-modified, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), zinc gluconate, thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12.

– Ingredients: Water, pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil, modified cornstarch, modified cellulose, yeast extract, virgin coconut oil, sea salt, natural flavor, beet powder (for color), ascorbic acid (to promote color retention), onion extract, onion powder, garlic powder.

– Ingredients: Water, soy protein concentrate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, isolated soy protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract (yeast extract, salt, natural flavor), caramel color, natural flavor (yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, natural flavors, medium chain triglycerides, acetic acid, grill flavor [from sunflower oil], smoke (flavor), beet juice powder (maltodextrin, beet juice extract, citric acid), natural red color (glycerin, beet juice, annatto), citric acid.

– Ingredients: Vital wheat gluten, filtered water, organic expeller-pressed palm fruit oil, barley, garlic, expeller-pressed safflower oil, onions, tomato paste, celery, carrots, naturally flavored yeast extract, onion powder, mushrooms, barley malt, sea salt, spices, carrageenan (Irish moss sea vegetable extract), celery seed, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, shiitake mushrooms, porcini mushroom powder, yellow pea flour.

– Ingredients: Garbanzo beans, mushroom, vital wheat gluten, green peas, kale, water, bulgur wheat, barley, bell peppers, carrot, quinoa, extra-virgin olive oil, red onion, celery, flax seed, cilantro, garlic, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, sea salt, ginger, granulated onion, lime juice concentrate, cumin, canola oil, oregano.

Fuddruckers Ingredients:100 percent never frozen ground beef.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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