Plant-Based Doctors Group Offers $1.5 Million To Buy Oscar Mayer

The doctors group wants to transition Oscar Mayer to making plant-based products


4 Minutes Read

Oscar Mayer wiener hotdogs Oscar Mayer makes processed meats including hotdogs - Media Credit: Sara Stathas / Alamy Stock Photo

Kraft Heinz is considering selling processed meat brand Oscar Mayer, and a plant-based doctors group wants to buy it.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has offered Kraft Heinz USD $1.5 million to turn Oscar Mayer into a plant-based food manufacturer. PCRM says this would help to improve the health of Americans, as eating processed meat increases the risk of cancer.

Read more: Kraft Launches Vegan Mac And Cheese Boxes In Canada

“Americans’ interest in consuming animal products is waning and their interest in plant-based foods increasing, so this is the perfect time [for Kraft Heinz] to sell,” Dr. Neal Barnard, president of PCRM, said in a statement. Referencing Oscar Mayer’s famous jingle “Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener,” Barnard asked if Kraft Heinz will “help us transition from the wiener to make Oscar Mayer leaner and greener?”

The $1.5 million offering is well below the likely sale price of Oscar Mayer, which could fetch between $3 and 5 billion.

Oscar Mayer’s plant-based foray

A plant-based hot dog from Oscar Mayer
Kraft Heinz NotCo Oscar Mayer’s new plant-based hotdogs will be released later this year

Kraft Heinz acquired Oscar Mayer in the 1980s, a century after Oscar Mayer’s founding. Now Kraft Heinz wants to sell the company reportedly to “refocus” its product portfolio to boost the Kraft Heinz’s stock price.

Oscar Mayer makes not only its famous wiener hotdogs, but also bacon, cold cuts, and scrambled egg “kits.” In March of this year the company announced it would be releasing its first ever plant-based hot dogs and sausages later in 2024. The products are made of the Kraft Heinz Not Company, a joint venture with vegan meat brand NotCo.

Read more: Burger King Makes Plant-Based Food Cheaper Than Meat In Germany

“We know people are hungry for plant-based meat options from brands they know and trust,” Lucho Lopez-May, CEO of The Kraft Heinz Not Company, said in a statement at the time. “In launching the joint venture’s first product in the plant-based meat category, we saw an opportunity to satisfy these consumer cravings, leveraging NotCo’s revolutionary AI technology and the power, equity, and legacy of the Oscar Mayer brand.”

Cancer rates rising

PCRM, which advocates for disease prevention through healthy plant-based diets, says it is concerned by reports of cancer rates rising in the US, including in young people.

Researchers from University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) have found that colon cancer rates have been rising in children as young as 10. Though the researchers do not yet know why this is the case. But they suspect it could be linked to the factors such as exposure to microplastics or to modern processed foods. PCRM points out that children are targeted by the ads for Oscar Mayer’s processed wieners, which are made from a mix of meats including chicken and pig.

The annual cancer statistics report by the American Cancer Society (ACS) also shows concerning trends. It predicts that in 2024 the US will see over 2 million new cancer cases and over 600,000 cancer deaths. In line with the UMKC research, it shows that deaths from colorectal cancers have been rising in young adults.

“Approving the sale of Oscar Mayer for $1.5 million to transition it to focus on the manufacture of plant-based foods will go a long way toward curbing US cancer statistics,” said Barnard.

Diet and cancer risk

Eating red and processed meat can increase the risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, among others. On average, Americans eat far more red and processed meat a week than is recommended. 

But more Americans are trying to cut back. A 2018 survey found that 55 percent of Americans were reducing their intake of processed meat while 41 percent were reducing their red meat consumption.

Read more: Plant-Based Diets Slow Progression Of Prostate Cancer, Study Suggests

PCRM, which has 17,000 physicians as members, promotes plant-based diets rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans as the “best way” to improve health and lower cancer risk. This position is backed up by major studies such as the Adventist Health Study-2

“Eating a plant-based diet increases consumption of fiber and antioxidants associated with cancer prevention, while simultaneously avoiding the compounds in animal products linked to cancer risk,” Barnard said. “It has long been known that people who avoid meat are at reduced risk.”

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