Oscar Mayer Is Entering The Plant-Based Meat Game

Just months after releasing its popular plant-based mac and cheese, with fans reporting that it is almost constantly sold out, Kraft Heinz Not Company, a collaboration between food giant Kraft Heinz and the Chilean startup NotCo, is releasing the very first plant-based "meats" from Oscar Mayer. NotCo is also responsible for NotMilk, which some consider the plant-based milk that is closest in taste to cow's milk. "The plant-based hot dogs and dinner sausage links category remains underdeveloped and under-consumed within the broader plant-based meat category, largely due to disappointment in existing offerings' taste and texture," the company wrote in an email to Mashed. 

According to a press release, Oscar Mayer's bun-length NotHotDogs and NotSausages will make their first appearance at Anaheim's Expo West on March 12 through 16 (booth #N1732). Considered by some to be the Super Bowl of natural, organic, and healthy food, the expo draws many of the biggest names in plant-based foods to introduce their newest offerings. After the NotBurger appeared at 2022's Expo West, many considered it one of the trade show's top items, with PETA even mentioning it on its website.  

The items appear meat-like in color and appearance, down to the grill marks along the sides. While the NotHotDogs will come in one flavor, the NotSausages are being introduced in two varieties: Bratwurst and Italian Sausage. The plant-based Oscar Mayer alternatives will roll out nationwide later in 2024.

Taste tests give NotDogs and NotSausages positive marks

What makes Kraft Heinz Not Company so different from others offering plant-based items is how it develops them. NotCo uses A.I. technology, which according to NotCo's website, works to combine "data from thousands of plants and identify combinations to replicate animal products on a molecular level." The tech even has a name, Giuseppe. This technology has proven successful with previous endeavors, including Kraft NotCheese slices and NotMayo.

With the United States plant-based foods market expected to grow from $8.3 billion in 2023 to $19 billion by 2030 (via Research and Markets), Kraft Heinz and NotCo have an advantage over other companies offering plant-based options. Kraft Heinz has access to NotCo's A.I. technology, and NotCo has access to Kraft Heinz's brand recognition and millions of customers.

The Oscar Mayer NotHotDogs and NotSausages offer a smoky, plant-based alternative for those looking for something different at barbecues or family gatherings. The packaging is similar to that of Oscar Mayer's meat offerings, with "plant based" and "NotHotDog" or "NotSausage" included to distinguish it from the other products. Kraft Heinz Not Company CEO Lucho Lopez-May told Food Dive that a taste test of the Oscar Mayer plant-based items gave him a lot of optimism. Most tasters gave an "extremely high" rating on whether they would purchase the foods in the future. "We're really confident with the products we're launching because of that," Lopez-May said.