US-based Tyson Foods has revealed its blended meat and plant-based product range Raised & Rooted is set to hit retail and foodservice channels as it plans a “powerful domestic launch”.

Speaking to analysts after Tyson published the financial results for the third quarter of its 2018/2019 financial year, the meat giant’s CEO, Noel White, said: “We’re excited that our alternative protein products are hitting the market.”

He added: “Last month, we started shipping Raised & Rooted nuggets made with plants. We’re pleased to report the nuggets will be in 4,000 retail stores and available in broad line foodservice distribution by the end of September.

“We’re engaged with customers across channels and expect additional nationwide roll-outs in retail and foodservice over the next 12 months.”

The Raised & Rooted nuggets are made from pea protein isolate and other plant ingredients. They contain five grams of fibre and less saturated fat than traditional nuggets. The range also includes so-called ‘blended’ burgers, made from a combination of beef and plants. 

New York-listed Tyson, which sold its shares in meat-free company Beyond Meat in April, is seeking to appeal to both traditional meat lovers and proponents of plant-based alternatives with the new brand.

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White said Tyson also has an eye on export markets with this range. “We’re in early discussions with partners to introduce these products outside the US but for now our primary focus is a powerful domestic launch,” he said. 

When the launch was announced in June, Tyson said: “The initiative makes Tyson Foods the largest US meat producer to enter the growing alternative protein segment with its own products.”

But White suggested this was no Damascene conversion from one of the world’s largest meat businesses.

“For us, this is about ‘and’ – not ‘or.’ We remain firmly committed to our growing traditional meat business and expect to be a market leader in alternative protein, which is experiencing double-digit growth and could someday be a billion-dollar business for our company,” he said.

Tyson has already extended the blended initiative to its existing Aidells sausage brand with the launch of Aidells Whole Blends.

Aidells Whole Blends products include a range of fully-cooked sausages and meatballs made with a blend of antibiotics-free chicken and plant-based ingredients such as chickpeas, black beans, quinoa, lentils and barley.

In its third quarter, which ran to 29 June, Tyson saw sales increase from US$10.05bn to $10.89bn, amid a jump in chicken sales.

Net income was up from $542m to $681m. However, operating income was down from $797m to $781m.

Read: Looking for the right blend – Tyson targets flexitarianism