After 140 Years, Oscar Mayer Gives Its Hot Dogs a Meatless Makeover

For more than 140 years, Oscar Mayer has been synonymous with traditional meat-based hot dogs. Last year, it pulled in $89 million in hot dog sales alone. 

But in 2024, Oscar Mayer is venturing into the global vegan hot dog market through its parent company, Kraft Heinz, which is part of the joint venture The Kraft Heinz Not Company. Under this venture, the global food giant is working to rethink its heritage products together with The Not Company, a Chilean food innovator that produces plant-based products that are identical to their animal counterparts with the help of artificial intelligence. 

In its latest launch, The Kraft Heinz Not Company has remade Oscar Mayer’s products in plant-based NotHotDogs and NotSausages, a strategic move to meet evolving consumer preferences while tapping into the growing demand for plant-based alternatives. 

VegNews.VeganHotDogs.OscarMayer2The Kraft Heinz Not Company

“When deciding which products to bring to market, we analyze various categories, taste, and ingredient profiles, as well as the consumer need for a great tasting product,” Danielle Watts, Associate Director of Marketing at The Kraft Heinz Not Company, tells VegNews. 

“Consumer desire for delicious and accessible plant-based alternatives only continues to grow, and this is the foundation on which The Kraft Heinz Not Company was built,” Watts says. 

“At the same time, plant-based hot dogs and dinner sausage links remain underdeveloped and under-consumed, largely due to consumers being disappointed in the taste and texture of existing offerings,” she says. 

Oscar Mayer’s plant-based wieners 

The global vegan hot dog industry is currently valued at approximately $496 million and, according to market research firm Future Market Insights, will grow to $829 million by 2033.

To tap into the lucrative industry, the joint venture has been working on the new NotHotDogs and NotSausages since announcing the joint venture in 2022.

“Throughout the development of Oscar Mayer NotHotDogs and NotSausages, we leveraged key characteristics from our proprietary Oscar Mayer flavor profile to ensure we were mapping back to the savory and smoky experience fans have known and loved for over 140 years,” Watts says. 

VegNews.VeganHotDogs.OscarMayerThe Kraft Heinz Not Company

Central to the creation of Oscar Mayer’s meatless hot dogs and sausages are plant-based ingredients selected by Giuseppe, the AI-powered “chef” NotCo uses to approximate animal products. Here, mushrooms, peas, bamboo, and cherry serve as essential components that contribute to the overall taste, texture, and appearance. 

“For our Oscar Mayer NotHotDogs, the use of ingredients like mushroom and tomato powder bring savory and smoky taste notes, and our proprietary spice blend includes acerola cherry, which helps round out our flavor profile,” Watts says. 

“Our NotHotDog and NotSausage products not only deliver on great taste but also bring the smell, appearance, texture, and grill marks consumers desire and want,” she says. 

A casing made from seaweed is wrapped around the meatless sausages to make for a snappy eating experience reminiscent of the original. 

“When it comes to replicating the links experience in a plant-based format, a big unlock for us was around the texture and achieving the ‘snap’ that happens when you bite into a sausage link,” Watts says. “Our team curated a variety of novel plant-based ingredients, ultimately introducing an algae-based casing that naturally mimics the casing experience of sausage links.”

The new Oscar Mayer plant-based hot dogs and sausages—in Bratwurst and Italian flavors—will roll out at retailers nationwide later this year. 

Kraft Heinz remakes its classics

By remaking its classic products to resonate with modern consumers, Kraft Heinz, through its joint venture, is poised to capture a hearty portion of the plant-based food industry—which Research and Markets projects will be worth $19 billion globally by 2030.  

VegNews.VeganKraftSingles.KraftHeinzNotCoThe Kraft Heinz Not Company

In addition to the new Oscar Mayer plant-based hot dogs and sausages, the company has also released a vegan remake of its popular mayonnaise (NotMayo) and three flavors of its Kraft cheese singles (NotCheese in American, Provolone, and Cheddar).

Late last year, the joint venture also unveiled Kraft NotMac & Cheese, a reimagined version of its famed boxed mac and cheese in dairy-free original and white cheddar flavors, both sold in an updated version of its recognizable blue box.   

With these items, the joint venture completes its stated goal of launching plant-based products in four categories. In 2024, the aim is to expand to seven categories while making plant-based products accessible to more consumers. 

“Looking ahead, The Kraft Heinz Not Company will continue to scale into even more categories and continue its international expansion,” Watts says.

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