Why Meat Alternative Brands Need New, Less Beefy Names

In a short time, the meat alternative market has gone from a couple of novelty startups to multiple, well-funded companies with products in major stores.

However, these meat alternative brands use animal-protein names to market their products. And that doesn’t sit well with the meat industry.

As the popularity of alternative protein products increases, and cattle producers press legislators on name-restriction policy, the plant-based, lab-grown “meat” innovators will need to choose their own, not-so-meaty names.

What’s in a name?  

Meat producers in particular want alternative protein companies to use names other than “meat.” So, they’re turning to legislators for help, including defining what is and isn’t meat.

In fact, a bill recently passed in Missouri that will make it harder for protein-alternative companies to use the term “meat” in their branding. The bill states: “This act … prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.”

If this type of policy takes hold and moves to the Federal level, it could mean no more pictures of cows on plant-based protein packaging and removing the word “meat” to describe an alternative protein product — tricky for brands with “meat” in the name.

It’s a labeling-law thing

When it comes to new, innovative products, food safety and correct labeling is a concern, especially as FSMA regulations settle in and reshape labeling practices.

And at a time when consumers are more aware of what’s in their food, providing accurate labeling information is critical to a product’s success.

It’s also the meat industry’s key argument for eliminating the word “meat” from alternative protein branding.

As seen with the Dairy Pride Act

The meat-naming dispute follows close on the heels of the milk alternatives battle. With the rise of non-dairy alternatives, such as almond and soy beverages, the dairy industry is paving the way in the naming rights war.

For example, the Dairy Pride Act bill is now in the hands of the FDA.

That includes defining milk as “… the lacteal secretion…obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”

This will force alternative dairy producers to find another way to name their products. It will also give cattle producers more clout as they press forward in the meat-naming crusade.

It comes down to marketing

Consumers like meat. They also like alternative proteins. And as meat producers fight to protect the name of their products (and win), non-meat makers will have to find another way to describe their non-beef and non-chicken products.

And that will take some clever marketing teams to brand (or rebrand) plant-based protein products — to give them original, non-meat names consumers will recognize — right there next to the ribeye steaks and prime rib.

What’s your take on regulating new food product names? Please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

At Ingredient Exchange, we help food industry customers manage their waste product. Got problem ingredients you need to offload? We can find a market for your off-spec product and turn your bad inventory into cash. Get in touch.