Walmart meat supplier opens first plant-based processing facility

11 Oct 2021

California-based meat company Jensen Meat has officially gotten into the plant-based protein industry with the inauguration of its first plant-based protein production facility. This plant opening comes three years after the company first announced its plan to invest in plant-based beef alternatives, industry publication Meat + Poultry reported.

The processing plant not only has the capabilities to form patties for finished products but it is also equipped to blend, cook, dry mix, emulsify and hydrate on site. This enables the facility to offer end-to-end production for the creation of plant-based alternatives, according to a company release on the project from earlier this year.

Walmart meat supplier opens first plant-based processing facility

Getting into plant-based manufacturing is a big step for a company that has concentrated for the last 63 years on producing bulk beef products for foodservice. However, this plant is not Jensen's first foray into the animal-protein-free space. In 2019, the company acquired the plant-based producer Before the Butcher for an undisclosed sum. Since then the meat alternative brand has expanded its footprint in both retail and foodservice.

It is no surprise that Jensen’s first plant-based acquisition blossomed so quickly considering that the company already has long-standing contracts with major U.S. retailers. Jensen supplies its products to Walmart, Kroger, Sam’s Club and Sysco throughout the U.S., and the company’s food can be found in 20 school districts around the country.

This extensive reach will likely serve the company well as it looks to delve deeper into the alternative protein category that has been on an upward growth trajectory for several years. With 57% of U.S. households purchasing plant-based food in 2020, the category posted a 27% growth rate and was worth $7 billion in 2020, according to SPINS data. Slicing into that market with its own production facilities has the potential to be lucrative for Jensen.

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