Unless one is in an Arby’s-like state of denial, it’s hard to miss the rise of plant-based faux meat products, from Impossible Foods to Beyond Meat. Now, a Seattle-based company called Rebellyous Foods aims to corner the meat-free fried chicken market. Formerly known as Seattle Food Tech, Rebellyous has a small, 10-person operation in South Seattle and has started selling its plant-based chicken products (nuggets, patties, and strips) to local corporate and hospital cafeterias in the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center. The meatless chicken can also be found on the late night menu at Georgetown Liquor Company, as well as Portland restaurants Twilight Bar and Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza. “We’ll soon be scaling up production to serve some very large food service customers and setting up our headquarters this fall,” Rebellyous founder and CEO Christy Lagally (a former Boeing engineer) tells Eater Seattle.
According to a recent report, Rebellyous’ chicken products have about 40 percent less saturated fat and sodium than the real thing, with three times as much fiber (ingredients include wheat and soy proteins, breading, canola oil, and cornstarch). But where the company really hopes to stand out from the pack is in terms of cost. While Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat’s products can be more than twice as much as actual meat in grocery stores, Rebellyous’ chicken nuggets are comparable in price to the frozen kind. Much of reducing the cost lies in manufacturing practices, with the company utilizing more efficient production equipment and employing frying methods that involve less oil.
The company also thinks it can pass the taste test with customers. “In the past, plant-based chicken has often been dry or rubbery,” says Lagally. “We’ve solved this issue with better manufacturing methods that process the materials more gently and allow us to create a juicy, tender ‘chicken’ nugget.”
There’s still a long way to go to keep up with the meatless competition, though. Even with higher prices, Impossible Foods’ products are in such demand, the company is having trouble keeping the faux meat in stock. And Beyond Meat made a splash when it went public earlier this spring. But Rebellyous is confident in its plan. Says Lagally, “We focus not just on great taste and texture, but also on how products are made so we can scale more effectively.”