VENICE, Calif. – The latest innovation from the creator of the vegan Beyond Burger is a mushroom-based snack chip that tastes like crispy, smoky bacon.
Dave Anderson, previously the chef and lead product developer at Beyond Meat, co-founded Outstanding Foods Inc. with entrepreneur Bill Glaser. The flagship product line, PigOut Pigless Bacon Chips, is available in four flavors: original, cheddar, chipotle and Kansas City barbecue. The products are vegan, kosher, free of soy and gluten, and contain 73 percent less saturated fat and 69 percent less sodium than cooked pork bacon, according to the company.
“We’re not leading with the health benefits because there are lot of products that are healthy for you but don’t taste good,” said Glaser, the company’s CEO. “We want people to get the benefits from our product, but the most important thing is no matter who you are and what type of diet you have, we want to make products that you are going to love and literally be addicted to in a good way.”
PigOut Chips are beginning to appear on retail shelves throughout the country, with a nationwide roll-out in Sprouts Farmers Market stores planned this month. The brand is generating online buzz and has attracted celebrity investors, including television personality Rob Dyrdek, actress Emily Deschanel, dog trainer Cesar Millan and country music performer Dierks Bentley, among others.
“Instead of paying people to promote our product, we want people to be connected to our brand and believe in it enough that they are writing us a check, not the other way around,” Glaser said.
In an interview with MEAT+POULTRY sister publication Food Business News, Glaser discussed future innovation plans, research and development challenges and his long-term vision for Outstanding Foods.
What’s the story behind your flagship product, PigOut Chips?
Bill Glaser: We didn’t want to incrementally compete and come out with another burger or another cheese or another ice cream because there are some pretty good plant-based options out there.
We wanted to own the category, and when we evaluated the market, we felt that bacon represented that opportunity. Because all these plant-based bacon strips are made from soy, wheat or tempeh, and they’re great for vegans and vegetarians, but if you’re a bacon eater, they don’t really move the needle.
Dave started developing a bacon strip for Outstanding Foods, but when I started to think about the strategy of not trying to change people’s traditions and to go where they were already shopping, we didn’t want to be in a situation where consumers were walking by the plant-based meat aisle and thinking, “That’s for other people.” We wanted to reach them where they were. So, I asked Dave if he could make the bacon strip into a snack food, and that birthed the PigOut chips.
How long did it take to develop?
Glaser: We were in product development for almost two years. This product is made from mushrooms, and there’s a lot of innovation behind the product. You can’t just fry a mushroom and season it and create the taste of bacon. The mushroom absorbs too much oil and has too high of a fat content. Dave had to figure out among other things a way to reduce the fat. He developed a fat reduction method that not only works for our mushrooms but also works for potatoes. We have a potential to license that to large potato chip companies that want to reduce the fat and keep the taste of fried. So that’s an opportunity we have with our IP…but more importantly we have IP on a product that’s not easily replicated. There were a lot of challenges Dave and we had to figure out throughout the R&D process.
What other formats or products do you plan to launch?
Glaser: We will continue to have snack foods that are better for you. Our PigOut Chips are packed with health benefits that come from our primary ingredient, mushrooms.
We’re continuing that theme with all these snack foods that taste great but also offer health benefits. We’ll have a plant-based pork rind coming out with a high protein content. We will have other snack foods that also are functional and taste great.
And then the long-term vision is we expect to have other vertical brands… ChickenOut, SteakOut, others. And ultimately our vision is to have products across the store, including bacon strips — all plant-based, of course.