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Plant players: Nestlé introduces flexitarian-inspired range

Its new food brand, called Garden Gourmet, includes meat alternatives, snacks and ingredients aimed at making vegetarian cooking exciting.

29 May 2018
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Nestlé has jointed the meat-free fray – but they're avoiding going full vegan.

The global food and drink giant has launched a new brand called Garden Gourmet, pushing plants at food lovers who are looking to cut down on meat but don’t want to compromise on taste. The company noted that they are particularly targeting those following a flexitarian diet.

Nestlé’s chefs and nutritionists worked together to develop a range of 12 plant-based products, ranging from meat-free burgers and mince to chicken-style pieces, as well as veggie flavours like quinoa and broccoli bakes and bright beetroot falafel.

The new products are now available in Sainsbury’s and Ocado.

Vittorja Simms, insight manager at Nestlé, said when developing the range it was important to keep in mind that vegetables can be perceived as dull and boring, and that people are concerned they won’t feel full if they don’t eat meat.

Meals, snacks and ingredients

Nestlé hasn’t just settled on familiar swaps like their meat-free burgers, which are available frozen and chilled. It also has three other categories: veggie creations, snacks and ingredients. The first consists of vegetables combined with grains, pulses or cheese, such as a quinoa and lentil bake.

Snacks are inspired by mezze, with a range of falafels with a twist that mix in beetroot, spinach or a hint of mint, right through to fiery red pepper.

For the home cooks, there is a selection of plant-based proteins to add to vegetarian dishes, like meat-free mince and meat-free chicken pieces.

Nestlé is also shouting about all the health benefits of the new range – there are no artificial flavours or preservatives used, and the products are a good source of fibre and protein, it said.

Keeping the levels of salt, sugar, fat or saturated fat down means there are no red labels under the colour-coded nutrition system, and the range also meets the salt targets recommended by the Government for meat alternatives.

Banishing bland

So what was the motivation behind this new range?

Paula Jordan, managing director of Nestlé’s UK Food Division, said the meat-free category is one of the most innovative areas in the food segment.

“We find that people want to enjoy a healthier diet and try to eat less meat, but they are sometimes disappointed with the taste,” she said.

“We’ve been working hard to offer something different to consumers and have developed a versatile range of delicious meat-free products packed with flavour to make sure there is no need to compromise on taste ever again.”

Providing solutions for everyday meals such as spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne or stir-fries was also key, Jordan said.

“We believe that vegetarian cooking is more than just cooking vegetables; it’s about new tastes, flavours and an exciting experience, as well as leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

“Meat free doesn’t have to mean excitement free, and Garden Gourmet is here to help revolutionise the vegetarian category by banishing bland and livening up mealtimes with a fantastic range of delicious veggie products.”

From plant-based steaks to pots

Garden Gourmet joins a string of new launches aimed at people on plant-based or flexitarian diets.

These include Dutch manufacturer Vivera’s plant-based steaks, which landed in Tesco last week, and an expanded vegan and vegetarian range in Waitrose, with new ingredients and 50 products from burgers to pies to desserts, which will hit shelves next month.

Nestlé also joins the likes of Unilever, which introduced its boutique range of vegan, gluten-free meal pots – including stews inspired by West African food – earlier this year.

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