Plant-based Nuggets Outperform Meat In ‘World’s Largest’ Taste Test

Plant-based chicken nuggets outperformed meat in a blind taste test


2 Minutes Read

A plate full of vegan chicken nuggets with a pot of tomato ketchup Vegan chicken nuggets are growing in popularity - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

A recent study found that multiple plant-based chicken nuggets outperformed animal-based varieties in a taste test.

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Described as the “world’s first and largest public sensory analysis of plant-based meats,” the study found that a majority of the 1,150 American participants preferred the flavor of plant-based chicken nuggets over traditional, animal-based ones.

This “category-specific deep dive” on plant-based vs animal nuggets was published on page 117 of “Taste of the Industry 2024,” the inaugural report from NECTAR – a new initiative from Food System Innovations (FSI) aimed at “accelerating the protein transition with taste.”

This section of NECTAR’s report found that the average plant-based nugget has achieved parity with traditional chicken nuggets and that the former, meat-free versions “clearly outperformed” the latter in terms of taste and texture.

“It wasn’t just one brand that outperformed. Multiple brands overperformed on taste, which is really exciting,” said NECTAR director Caroline Cotto, as reported by National Post.

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Plant-based nuggets: still room for further improvement

A person eating vegan chicken nuggets from Impossible Foods
Impossible Foods Impossible Foods was among the brands used in the taste test

Participants tried nine different commercially available plant-based products, and overall preferred nuggets produced by Impossible Foods, MorningStar Farms, Quorn, Rebellyous Foods, and Simulate.

The report did not find wins for plant-based meat across the board, however. Notably, the nugget category was the only one in which plant-based food scored best. Breaded products were generally more popular than non-breaded, and the study said there were improvements to be made in terms of flavor, texture, and appearance of plant meats. Consumers generally wanted saltier, juicer, and greasier products, something that Cotto said she was “surprised” about.

NECTAR’s next study will focus on blind taste-testing “blended” products which include both meat and plant-based protein.

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