Darcey Macken serves as CEO of Planterra Foods, a new, innovative plant-based protein startup company based in Colorado dedicated to bringing thoughtful plant-based protein choices to the table. Innovation, convenience and taste are at the forefront of Planterra Foods and OZO, the first plant-based protein brand Planterra Foods brought to market in 2020. The company recently opened a new, 189,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Denver, offering opportunities to expand the brand to more consumers and retailers and providing 200 jobs in the community.

According to the Plant Based Foods Association, 2020 sales of plant-based meats accounted for $1.4 billion, a 45.3% year-over-year growth. A majority of those shoppers were return customers – 63% – a sign that plant-based products are becoming household staples. Planterra’s goal is to give a boost to flexitarians – people who eat plant-based meals but also enjoy meat or fish – by giving consumers more delicious plant-based protein choices.

Planterra Foods is owned by JBS USA.

Planterra aims to bring food to the table that is sustainable and beneficial to both the consumer and the planet: what are some of the ways the company meets that goal?

Planterra Foods is on a mission to make a positive impact on the world, providing every single human being with reliable, sustainable, affordable access to plant-based food. We believe everyone should have access to delicious, nutritious, healthy protein that is good for the environment and for people.  We are passionate about making a positive impact on the planet, and constantly improving our recyclability to reduce our impact on the environment. Our OZO packaging is made from four main components: paper sleeves, plastic trays, a film, and sometimes, a paper to separate the burgers. Our sleeves are made from a recyclable, virgin-paper material and we use vegetable/plant-based inks for the print. Our trays are made from virgin polypropylene and are recyclable in about 70% of the U.S. population.

OZO Chicken Cutlet
OZO’s plant-based chicken products are available in four seasoning options, incluing Garlic & Herb Cutlet. Image courtesy of Planterra.

In our OZO products, along with our shiitake blend of mushrooms, we make our food with an exclusive proprietary blend of pea and rice protein — a nutritious, protein-packed little plant with very low environmental impact. In addition, Planterra Foods is using sustainable palm oil for our OZO line of plant-based protein. Our team is constantly looking at ways to improve our food and minimize the impact on the environment with innovative packing options. Across our teams, we seek the highest-quality partners who share our values for mutual success and sustainable living. Together, we’re working with the current and next generation of farmers to reimagine the positive impact of crop selection, soil quality and conservation.

Regarding health for consumers, OZO products stand apart with delicious taste, clean ingredients and superior nutritional advantage. OZO products are packed with abundant flavor for those who enjoy good food and don’t want to compromise taste to eat well. Secondly, and just as importantly, OZO has a clear nutritional advantage with fewer calories and less fat, saturated fat and sodium than other leading plant-based protein options in the marketplace. We pride ourselves in being an approachable plant-based brand and OZO is made simply, just like you would make in your own kitchen.

Planterra recently opened an 189,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado. How will this affect the brand’s production and manufacturing capabilities?

Opening our new manufacturing facility in Denver will increase Planterra’s production capabilities, offering opportunities to expand the brand to more consumers and retailers. It also provides new job opportunities in the Denver community. The plant will employ approximately 200 people at full operations across corporate and manufacturing roles. We are proud to be a Colorado-based company and our team is made up of food-loving, positive impact-makers with a shared vision to bring innovative solutions to plant-based foods through delicious, high-quality products.

OZO Shredded Chicken
Planterra's OZO lineup is produced at its Denver, Colorado facility. Image courtesy of Planterra.

Sales of plant-based foods are skyrocketing, indicating they are becoming household staples. How does the OZO brand fit into a flexitarian lifestyle?

Planterra Foods creates plant-based foods for the “everytarian” – from the lifelong vegan or vegetarian to the meatless-Monday home chef, and even the diehard meat lover.  Most of all, we believe in promoting a flexitarian lifestyle and the incredible power of our food to help people feel good physically, environmentally and financially. Along with flexing their choices of food, convenience will continue to be top of mind for consumers, which is why we create household staples that fit a busy lifestyle and people can feel good about feeding their families at mealtime. Most recently, products such as OZO’s True Bite Chicken products, Mexican Seasoned Ground, Smokehouse Burgers, Breakfast Sausages and Italian Style Meatballs.

Darcey Macken
Darcey Macken is CEO of Planterra, a Colorado plant-based protein company. Image courtesy of Planterra.

In addition to OZO products in grocers’ freezers, Planterra has a foodservice business. Discuss the foodservice side of Planterra’s products and how the company hopes to grow that business?

Planterra Foods entered the foodservice market in September, 2020, with four introductory plant-based protein products: Burgers (eight 5-ct. sleeves x 4-oz. patty packs); Ground (four 2 x 1.25-lb. saddle packs); Breakfast Sausage Patties (four 2.5-lb. re-sealable bags) and Nuggets (four 2.5-lb. re-sealable bags). The new OZO plant-based foodservice line is available in turnkey stay-fresh packaging, including easy-open peel tops and re-sealable bags, for ease of handling and opening for foodservice operators. The OZO foodservice product line is currently available for purchase through foodservice providers or by contacting Planterra Foods. We are also partnering with select foodservice providers to co-create and customize plant-based solutions.

Planterra Foods aims to change the future of protein by giving people delicious plant-based choices. Superior taste, innovation and convenience are at the forefront of Planterra Foods. We’re investing in consumer insights to understand the wants and needs of food lovers as we look to disrupt this category with a plant-based solution that is packed with abundant flavor and delivers superior taste. We want people to enjoy good food without having to compromise flavor to eat well.

In 2020, OZO became the first plant-based protein product Planterra brought to market. What’s ahead for the company in 2022?

The newest addition to our lineup of meat substitutes is the True Bite Plant-Based Chicken Cutlet and Shreds from OZO. What makes True Bite Chicken Cutlet and Shreds unlike anything else on the market is the flavor and texture, which is comparable to that of real, whole-muscle chicken that you need a knife and fork to eat. OZO’s plant-based chicken products will be available in four delicious seasoning options: Garlic & Herb Cutlet, Sea Salt & Pepper Cutlet, BBQ Shreds and Rotisserie-style Shreds. We want to provide additional meal solutions and center plate options with these four delicious items. We are excited to launch these first-of-its-kind vegan and plant-based protein options in early 2022, when they’ll hit grocery shelves nationwide in the fresh meat aisle.