Bacon

In yet another sign that the mass craving for meat alternatives isn’t a passing fad, natural and organic meat company Applegate Farms, a subsidiary of processed meat giant Hormel Foods Corp., is thinking about moving into the plant-based space as well.

“We’re a brand that is always looking for better solutions and how do we continue to make progress,” Applegate President John Ghingo said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We are definitely considering creating new products.”

Consumer concerns about meat and dairy — including those related to health, animal welfare and the environment — are driving a $3.7 billion plant-based market, according to recent Nielsen data. Applegate would join such Silicon Valley favorites as Beyond Meat, which has products widely available at grocery stores and some restaurants, and Impossible Foods, which recently unveiled a promotion tied to the ubiquitous White Castle slider.

Ghingo was clear, however, about the company’s continued commitment to its core product line.

“We love selling meat; we love our portfolio,” he said. Applegate, acquired by Hormel in 2015, recently introduced a no-sugar bacon, available in both its organic and natural lines, as well as a line of cheeses.

“But,” Ghingo added, plant-based meat alternatives are a “really interesting space.” Applegate pins its image to a promise that all of its animals are raised without antibiotics or growth promoters. Translating that into the vegan sphere is an interesting question, Ghingo said.

“How do we, as a progressive meat and food company, think about moving forward?” he asked.