This year’s Natural Products Expo West NEXTY for Best Frozen Product went to Teton Waters Ranch for a product that in a way takes two sides of a debate in sustainable food. The Denver-based brand launched Burger Blends at Expo West 2019, frozen patties made from 70% grass-fed beef and 30% savory mushrooms, offered in three varieties: Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper, Mushroom and Onion and Southwest. We talked with the company's marketing director, Nadine Rich, about the unique offering Teton Waters has brought to market.
With your Burger Blends, you’re almost taking both sides of the debate around meat consumption, selling beef while also promoting reduced meat consumption. Is that the company’s intention, to send the eat-less-meat message?
Nadine Rich: We always start with what our consumers are looking for. As we think about Teton Waters Ranch, we want to bring grass-fed beef to the masses, and be a whole solution for people—not just a select group of people who can afford to buy these prime cuts behind the butcher case. Not everyone’s going to do that.
We want to bring familiar foods like burgers, like hot dogs, and give people permission to eat them and make it more affordable. When we’ve been talking to our consumers about what they want to serve their families, a big thing they’ve told us is, ‘How do you integrate more vegetables into your diet?’ This is the direction we wanted to take our Burger Blends.
Our blends are a blend of 100% grass-fed and finished beef with non-GMO mushrooms. We’ve done that because one, because consumers are looking to integrate more vegetables into their diet. Two, if you’re going to be eating meat, we think you should be eating grass-fed and finished beef. It’s best not only from a regenerative perspective, but also for animal health and your own personal health.
Have you received any pushback on the idea of essentially encouraging reduced meat consumption?
NR: We haven’t received any pushback from our suppliers or consumers. I think that it makes a lot of sense if we look at what’s important to Teton Waters Ranch. We were founded principles on regenerative farming. Our founder had a basically dead piece of land. It was an experiment of regenerative practices in terms of putting back wild and natural grasses, and rehabilitating the land to its former prairie state. Looking at that core mission, this makes sense and is true to what our mission is. It feels like a no-brainer for us. Mushrooms are one of the most sustainable vegetables you can bring, they culinarily blend with burgers—this offering makes sense.
What has the NEXTY Award meant for the company?
NR: We're really excited to get the award for a number of reasons. Being recognized by New Hope and people who know this food space so well is huge, and also doing something so new and innovative not only for our company, but it’s more or less a new category being created—being recognized for that was important for us. We’ve been able to capitalize on that momentum as we go and talk with customers. To have a NEXTY behind you, that’s helped us get in the door with other customers that maybe we haven’t had such good traction with.
We had been in the refrigerated section for a while. Going into frozen burgers is a new category for us, and this blended idea coming to retail is a new category. Consumers are familiar with it a little bit, there’s the whole Blended Burger Project. But it’s something you would get at a restaurant. Bringing that in to make it available at retail is new.
Any plans to expand this “blended” theme in future product development?
NR: We’re always evolving what our innovation pipeline looks like, based on feedback from consumers and based on where we think it makes the most sense from our mission of being better for the planet, better for animals and better for you. I don’t have any specific plans I can speak to, but blends seem to be gaining traction and we’re getting a positive response to them.