Mar 6, 2024 - Business

Oscar Mayer wieners go plant-based

Packages of Oscar Mayer plant-based hot dogs are shown next to actual hot dogs.

Oscar Mayer's new plant-based hot dogs and sausages. Photos courtesy of Kraft Heinz

Oscar Mayer is introducing its first plant-based products: hot dogs and sausages in bratwurst and Italian flavors, made from ingredients like bamboo fiber, mushroom and pea protein.

Why it matters: The splashy announcement shows there's still momentum in the plant-based meat sector, for which many obituaries have been written.

Driving the news: Oscar Mayer NotHotDogs and NotSausages will hit grocery stores in the second quarter of this year.

  • They're from the Kraft Heinz Not Company, a 2-year-old joint venture between the familiar weenie maker and TheNotCompany (NotCo), producer of NotChicken Patties and NotMilk.
  • The goal was to make the vegan dogs look, taste and cook as much like the real thing as possible.
  • "What the consumer is expecting is a product replica, a product that looks and performs like the animal-based item," Kraft Heinz NotCo CEO Lucho Lopez-May tells Axios.

Where it stands: Previous products from the collab include Kraft NotMac&Cheese (in classic and white cheddar), Kraft NotCheese Slices (in American, cheddar and provolone) and NotMayo.

The big picture: Despite the seeming ubiquity of vegan meat alternatives, "plant-based hot dogs and dinner sausage links remain underdeveloped and under-consumed within the broader plant-based meat category," according to a press release from the Kraft Heinz Not Company.

  • This is "largely due to disappointment in existing offerings' taste and texture," the company says.
  • Lopez-May tells Axios: "We're very excited with the current size of the space, but more importantly the future growth we see."
  • Plus: "We're going to be the first ones in the bun-length space."

Fun fact: The name "Not Dogs" was already taken by a company called Soy Boy, which has been making tofu-based franks since 1982.

What's next: Expect NotHotDogs and NotSausage to appear in about 2,000 stores nationwide after release, for prices just a bit higher than the meaty originals.

  • Will we be eating them in ballparks one day? "Yes," says Lopez-May.
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