Nestle launching pea-based vegan alternative to tuna

'Vuna' going first to Swiss supermarkets

Zurich | Reuters — Food giant Nestle is launching a new plant-based tuna alternative in Switzerland this month ahead of a global rollout, hoping that consumers eating at home during the COVID-19 pandemic will stay eager to try new products.

Known for Maggi soups and bouillon cubes, Nestle has been investing in plant-based food to make its prepared dishes unit trendier and more appealing to consumers wishing to lower their meat intake.

Made with pea protein, the new “Garden Gourmet” near-tuna — or “vuna,” as Nestle bills it — will be available in glass jars in the chilled aisle of Swiss supermarkets and can be used in salads, sandwiches and pizzas. Ready-to-eat sandwiches will also be sold in some stores, Nestle said.

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Developed within nine months by Nestle’s Swiss research facilities, the tuna is the group’s first plant-based seafood product to hit the market. Soy-based burgers, mince meat, sausages and chicken nuggets are already available.

Nestle said last month that increased at-home consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic boosted demand for its Garden Gourmet plant-based products in the first half of 2020.

The group’s sales of plant-based meat alternatives reached around 200 million Swiss francs (C$289.5 million) last year.

Nestle in January announced an open-ended deal with Canadian plant-based ingredient makers Burcon and Merit Functional Foods for supplies of those companies’ pea- and canola-based plant protein products.

— Reporting for Reuters by Silke Koltrowitz. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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