Rustlers, the £111.6m chilled ready meals brand from Kepak, has announced plans to launch a meat mimicking burger.

Made with pea protein, Rustlers ‘Meatless Maverick’ will tap into the booming plant based market, meeting demand from shoppers following flexitarian and meat reducing diets.

Launching in Tesco, One Stop and the Booker Group in November (RRP £2, case size 4), the product seeks to mimic Rustlers’ bestselling SKU, the Quarter Pounder (£19.3m) , complete with ‘Rustlers signature sauce’ to deliver on satisfying taste and convenience credentials.

Research shows the £648.4m meat-free category is in over 20% growth, with 27% of consumers who have never purchased a free from/alternative product planning to do so in future.

“The meat free movement has rapidly accelerated growth of the category, which is being driven by flexitarians as consumers seek more balance in their diets,” says Adrian Lawlor, Chief Marketing Officer of Kepak Group.

“It’s important for a brand like Rustlers which has built its success on meeting clear consumer needs to recognise this trend and provide solutions to meet it. For meat reducers, ‘Meatless Maverick’ provides an easy swap while behaviourally fitting existing habits, therefore requiring less of a conscious shift. Put simply, as a brand with significant equity around tasty meat-based products, we have strong consumer credibility to meaningfully mimic the taste of meat”

Rustlers seeks to overcome the most prominent barriers to trial for the plant based category – price (33%) and taste (31%).

“Research shows there is a perception that products within the meat free category require long cooking times with not much in the way of tasty, quick and treat options. Meatless Maverick will offer a meat free alternative to Rustlers whilst bringing the taste, convenience and quality credentials associated with the brand to the audiences we have defined – moderate meat reducers, committed meat reducers and moderate vegetarians,” adds Adrian.

Adrian also recognises price is a crucial factor in any shoppers purchase decision: “Meat mimicking products tend to carry a price premium vs the equivalent meat version, which acts as a deterrent. The Meatless Maverick burger will be available at the same accessible price point as our meat products (£2 RRP), appealing to the 52% of people who find affordability a challenge when committing to a plant based lifestyle.”

Merchandised within the meat free fixture in store, the product will generate incremental sales from the convenience seekers, 55% of whom say they found the lack convenience foods to suit their diet for snacking and eating on the go a barrier to purchase.

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