Meat Alternatives have recently flooded the mainstream retail channels. Sales of Meat Alternatives reached $253.1 in the 12 months ending February 2000 in food, drug and mass merchandisers according to SPINS and ACNielsen. But there is more to Meat Alternatives than just Veggie Burgers. Meat Alternatives are no longer viewed as grainy, flavorless substitutes, simply catering to the demands of the vegetarian population.

Traditionally, tofu comes to mind when thinking of meat-like soy products but tofu now has competition. Consumers are being introduced to many new tantalizing substitutes that are filling refrigerators and freezers in their local supermarkets. As Americans grow accustomed to these meat alternatives, they begin to crave the variety that these second-generation products provide.

The Wheat Meat

Extracting gluten from wheat forms Seitan (Say-tan), also known as the "wheat meat." Due to its versatility, this "meaty" textured substance can be enjoyed simmered, braised, baked, cooked or fried. Tempeh is made from whole soybeans and is often grilled or mixed with another grain. Sales of Tempeh/Seitan have grown 30.2% in mainstream food, drug and mass merchandisers in the 12 months ending February 2000. Seitan is low in fat and sodium yet high in protein content, these factors will continue to fuel the growth and awareness of this "wheat meat."

Meatless Hot Dogs

Refrigerated Meatless Hot Dogs are also key players in this trend with sales of $11.5 million dollars in food, drug and mass merchandisers 12 months ending February 2000.

Meatless Deli

Sales of Meatless Deli have also soared, growing an astounding 83.2% in mainstream food, drug and mass merchandisers in the 12 months ending February 2000. Meatless Deli slices are a healthy way to build a submarine sandwich, and come in a variety of mock meat flavors.

Consumers who are buying Meat Alternatives are getting a healthy substitute with a lot of taste. Don't be surprised to find Seitan kebobs and soy dogs cooking next to the Veggie Burgers on the barbecue this summer. These protein packed, healthy Meat Alternatives are on the supermarket shelves to stay.

SPINS is the leading provider of business-to-business content for the health and wellness industry, providing quantitative, fact based information regarding product and consumer trends across a range of retail channels.