Q&A with MorningStar Farms’ Sara Young

Sara Young, general manager of the US frozen veggie category for MorningStar Farms’ parent company Kellogg, is integral to making MorningStar’s entire product line fully plant-based over the next two years.
Sara young good food conference

MorningStar Farms has long been a leader in plant-based protein, with a legacy dating back more than four decades. Last year they made the bold decision to transition their entire product line to be 100 percent plant-based by 2021 (no more egg whites)!

GFI was honored to partner with MorningStar Farms on this decision, and we’re thrilled to have MorningStar Farms join us as a Presenting Sponsor at the Good Food Conference!

Sara Young is the general manager of the US frozen veggie category for MorningStar’s parent company Kellogg, and she aims to enable more people to explore center-of-the-plate plant protein with MorningStar’s offerings. She’s integral to the process of making the entire product line fully plant-based over the next two years.

Sara will be speaking at the Good Food Conference this September. (Tune in for the conference livestream to catch her panel!) Here’s a little taste of the many insights she has to offer from the forefront of the plant-based meat space!

Julia: What made MorningStar Farms commit to becoming 100 percent plant-based, and what does that transition entail?

Sara: At MorningStar Farms, our goal is to enhance the accessibility of great-tasting plant-based options for anyone and everyone. With our commitment, our products can be enjoyed by even more people who strive to add plants to their plate, while reducing the use of over 300 million egg whites annually by 2021, which will have a positive impact on the environment. The transition requires dedicating the necessary time and resources to do it right, including extensive research and testing to ensure we maintain the quality, taste, texture, and nutrition across the portfolio.

As a longtime leader in this space, how has MorningStar Farms’ approach to plant-based meat shifted over the decades?

MorningStar Farms has been the category leader for more than 40 years in retail and out of home such as restaurants, schools, and colleges. We’re America’s No. 1 Veggie Burger Brand*, but our products include everything from our Chik’n line to breakfast sausage. Today, we have a broad range of offerings for practically every meal, which means consumers can choose MorningStar Farms when they’re in the mood for something veggie-forward and when they’re looking for something meaty.

What major trends have you seen in the demand for plant-based protein in recent years?

More mainstream consumers—led by Millennials and Gen Z—are eating more plant-forward foods for many reasons, including taste, health, sustainability and more choice on menus.

They’re looking for great-tasting plant-based and protein-rich veggie options to support their health goals and a variety of options. Due to the demand for a chicken product that meets the dietary preferences of vegans, we revamped our Chik’N line, transitioning it to vegan. And after seeing consumer demand for larger burgers and more vegan-based dietary compliance, we innovated our Quarter Pound Vegan Burgers (Meat Lovers and Veggie Lovers) last summer and introduced our MorningStar Farms Cheezeburger with vegan cheese.

How can companies like MorningStar Farms encourage more consumers to shift their meals toward plant-based options?

People want to feel good about what they’re putting in their bodies without compromising taste or dealing with complicated prep, high cost, or driving across town. But they will only make plant-based eating a habit if they enjoy what they eat. At MorningStar Farms, we take pride in serving up all kinds of delicious options, from burgers to bacon, pulled pork to corn dogs, and vegetarian to vegan to provide options for almost every meal from breakfast to dinner.

Does MorningStar Farms have any exciting new 100 percent plant-based products out?

Our Grillers Crumbles and Veggie Classics Corn Dogs are our latest products to transition to vegan and are on store shelves. Our breakfast items, full burger portfolio, and veggie bacon will transition to vegan next and we expect the entire portfolio will be completely transitioned by 2021.

We see a significant opportunity beyond the burger segment, across all meals. While we renovate our current products to vegan, we’re also continuously innovating new varieties, based on culinary trends and consumer demand.

What are you most hoping to glean from this year’s Good Food Conference?

As a category leader for over 40 years, MorningStar Farms is excited to partner with other industry leaders to find new ways to make plant-based eating even more accessible. We believe that the conversation about plant-based proteins must evolve to ensure that the category as a whole is offering more flexibility and accessibility to match consumers’ tastes, lifestyles, and values.

We’re livestreaming the Good Food Conference September 4-6th. Sign up now to hear more from Sara!

*Neilsen xAOC Total Units Sold Cal Yr 2017


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Julia John