Straight from the fields

Pushing the Plant-Based Envelope

Pushing the Plant-Based Envelope

I spend a ridiculous amount of time standing in front of the packaged salads set in my local grocery store. While the trade news writer in me flits between competing brands and flavor trends, the consumer in me just wants to find an offering without meat. Although I do love a good Caprese, sometimes you need to switch things up.

Eating plant-based isn’t always easy. Despite the rise in vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets, there are still plenty of eating occasions that we veg-heads are excluded from. While being a fresh produce fanatic certainly helps, it is somewhat surprising to see how many plant-based opportunities lie ahead.
I’ve noticed that, as of late, food producers have targeted more value-added applications in order to supplement demand in this segment with convenience-forward options. Packaged salads, for example—which expanded significantly as a result of new purchasing habits in 2020—is one of many fresh-forward segments that has seen an influx of meatless innovations.

Suffice it to say, I am one of many consumers jumping for joy over Misionero’s recent rollout of its new salad kits featuring a plant-based meat substitute.


CJ: Misionero continues to gain momentum in the fresh vegetable market, such as partnering with Grupo Altex in Mexico, launching the new Green Wave brand, and earning an Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certification in just the past year alone. What recent developments have been made in terms of your product portfolio?

NZ: Kicking off 2021, we recently partnered with key alternative protein suppliers to launch a new salad kit line under our popular Garden Life brand. The new lineup includes three varieties: Hail Kale Caesar, Rancho Santa Fe, and Mindful Mediterranean.

All of the SKUs are topped with a chicken-alternative protein, which truly sets them apart in the category. We are currently ramping up our marketing promotions with more new product availability and expanded capacity for launch during the fall of 2021.

CJ: I can’t tell you how exciting this is as a vegetarian consumer and trade member! What led Misionero to pursue the plant-based line at this time?

NZ: Misionero strives to be an innovator and leader in growing trends across the food industry, having launched our first alternative meat salad kits in 2018. Plant-based eating has continued to skyrocket since then, with sales up 148 percent in 2019 from the previous year. The consumption continued to climb in 2020, despite the pandemic, with data pointing toward veganism being twice as popular as it was five years ago.

CJ: While one could argue that everything is plant-based in the fresh produce industry, there is still a huge difference between plant-based offerings and meatless offerings. Why is it important to bring meatless offerings to the market specifically?

NZ: These salad kits are convenient and an excellent alternative for swapping out chicken, whether for a health-conscious decision or simply trying something new. Misionero saw the opportunity to grow our product portfolio with this lineup that includes alternative chicken under the Garden Life brand to enhance the accessibility for cross-merchandising possibilities.

Garden Life’s new lineup goes beyond the traditional grain-based proteins by including meat alternatives.

Misionero saw the opportunity to grow our product portfolio with this lineup that includes alternative chicken under the Garden Life brand to enhance the accessibility for cross-merchandising possibilities.

Nicole Zapata, Marketing Director, Misionero

CJ: Speaking of cross-merchandising, how can retailers leverage these unique offerings across the grocery store?

NZ: The bagged salad kit line is being brought to the market with satisfaction in mind. The kits can be used as a side to enjoy with any meal or as a complete meal for consumers leaning toward a flexitarian diet. The Garden Life salad kit lineup leaves no one’s taste buds behind as it was created to be enjoyed by traditional meat lovers and vegans alike—so retailers can get creative with where they position these products.

CJ: While the jury is still out on whether meat eaters or vegetarians are healthier, there is much to be said about how plant-based diets can contribute to a more sustainable future. In offering this new line of products to consumers, how does Misionero hope to make an impact on the food industry overall?

NZ: Consumer behavior tends to trend toward making feel-good decisions. Purchasing plant-based products allows consumers to do something that benefits both the environment and their health. As the plant-based protein segment and the value-added space continue to grow, we hope to deliver convenient, healthy products that meet the expectations of this evolving space.


Meatless and convenient are a match made in buy-side heaven if you ask me! And, come fall, I have a feeling that grocers with these salad kits on hand will be biting into a new slice of the plant-based market.