Plant-based alternatives to traditional animal proteins like beef, pork, chicken and seafood remains a hot trend in 2020. Three giants of the industry--Nestlé, Sysco and US Foods--are each launching their own signature meatless products this year. Here's a detailed look at each one:

Nestlé - Sweet Earth Sausage

Good news for barbecue fans who want to put some vegan treats on the grill this year: Nestlé is launching plant-based sausages in Europe and the United States that look, taste and cook like a sausage should.

In Europe, the soy-based Garden Gourmet Incredible Sausage will be available in Bratwurst and Chorizo styles. It will launch for retail starting in March in 11 European markets, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Soon after, version for restaurants and food service will be available to out of home customers.

The United States will see the pea protein-based Sweet Earth Sausage arrive on shelves beginning in April in three varieties including Habanero Cheddar, Asian Ginger Scallion and Chik’n Apple. A version for foodservice will be available as well. The company will also launch a range of plant-based deli meats, which will be available in the U.S. both in retail (pre-packaged) cases and from the deli counter.

"After the huge success of our plant-based burgers and grounds, we’re now adding another favorite. These plant-based sausages really deliver on flavor and texture,” said Wayne England, head of Nestlé's food business. “Their juiciness and firm bite means you can cook and enjoy them any way you like, including grilling, roasting or pan-frying.”

Committed to plant-based for people and planet Nestlé is committed to providing more delicious, nutritious and sustainable plant-based options for consumers around the globe. People are continuing to look for different ways to eat more healthily by diversifying their protein intake and lower the environmental footprint of their diets.

Garden Gourmet is putting the ‘incredible’ into plant-based sausages with carefully chosen ingredients including soy, beetroot, carrots, peppers, and rapeseed and coconut oils. With 13 grams of plant-based protein, no cholesterol and around 40% less fat than a sausage made of pork, the Garden Gourmet Incredible Sausage scores a ‘B’ rating on the Nutri-score front of pack labeling system.

The Garden Gourmet and Sweet Earth sausages have a lower environmental impact that a sausage made with meat. For example, the Garden Gourmet Incredible Sausage has soy as its main ingredient. Compared to a pork-based sausage, a soy-based sausage can account for roughly 90 percent less CO2, 90 percent less water and 80 percent less land use. The packaging for the Garden Gourmet Incredible Sausage has also been designed to be fully recyclable.

Nestlé recently announced its ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including by offering more plant-based food and beverages. The company has also said it will make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Nestlé already has a wide range of meat alternatives on the market, including burgers, grounds, nuggets and schnitzels. Garden Gourmet and Sweet Earth are also continuing to expand their range of other products based on the goodness of vegetables.

As Wayne England added: "On top of meat alternatives, our chefs and plant-based food experts are developing tasty and nutritious veggie-centric ingredients and meals. These are full of flavor and surprising textures from vegetables, grains and pulses to inspire plantbased or flexitarian eaters to widen their horizons."

Sysco - Simply Plant-Based Meatless Burger Patty

A Sysco brand exclusive product, this innovative burger is now available to the company’s customers in the majority of its U.S. markets.

This plant-based burger is the latest offering from Sysco Simply, the company’s lifestyle brand designed to help foodservice operators meet growing consumer demand for flexible and customized menu choices. The Sysco Simply burger is a vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO soy patty with 18 grams of plant-based protein per serving, helping foodservice operators deliver a flavorful and on-trend menu offering to consumers seeking plant-based alternatives. According to the NPD Group, “burgers represent the largest plant-based foodservice category.”

“One of the key features of the patty is the special spice blend,” said Chef Neil Doherty, Sysco’s senior director, culinary development. “We worked extensively to ensure that we got the recipe just right. Our juicy Sysco Simply burger, with its exclusive combination of flavorful seasonings, has a hearty, meat-like texture and cooks within minutes, just like a traditional burger.”

In addition to the plant-based burger, Sysco Simply also offers a ground meatless option that is made using the same ingredients – but offers customers the flexibility to use the plant-based meatless product as an ingredient in a wide variety of recipes and dishes.

“Sysco developed Sysco Simply to offer our customers more of what they need to be successful in a competitive marketplace,” said Brian Todd, Sysco’s senior vice president, merchandising and marketing. “This launch, and the Sysco Simply brand, demonstrate our commitment to providing our customers with innovative, versatile and easy-to-use product solutions. Our customers can feature these delicious plant-based burgers to keep their menu offerings fresh and relevant with today’s consumers.”

US Foods - Molly’s Kitchen Plant-Based Burger Patty

Launching March 2, Molly’s Kitchen Plant-Based Burger Patty will be the newest addition to the US Foods lineup of meat alternative plant-based options that currently includes Meatless Crumbles and Meatless Breaded Boneless Wings. The four-ounce, plant-based vegan burger patty is made with a blend of pea protein and fava bean protein, wheat instead of soy, and includes 23 grams of protein. It has a savory texture that mimics its beef counterpart, and the patty is made with coconut oil and sunflower oil to provide the perfect juicy bite.

“As the growth of plant-based items on the menu continues to grow in the U.S. – 300+% in the past year alone according to Dataessential – US Foods is well-poised to ensure operators have the most innovative and on-trend products that can be easily integrated onto their menus in a variety of ways," says Stacey Kinkaid, VP of product development and innovation at US Foods. We are thrilled with the flavor profile and the way the patty performs on the grill back-of-house. We’ve perfected the savory flavor of a traditional meat patty, and we believe our operators, and their diners, will enjoy each and every bite.”