Tattooed Chef Founder: Consumers Seek Ready-Made Plant-Based Foods

plate of toasted bread and bowl of pork and beans

Sarah Galletti was a musician playing gigs around the Los Angeles area. Now the founder and chief creative officer at the Tattooed Chef is playing to her fans’ food preferences, selling plant-based frozen foods to major grocery chains.

Galletti recognized consumers want not only healthy foods, but foods that have nostalgic value.

“I’m passionate about reinventing the classics that people already recognize and are excited to eat, and making it easy and accessible for them. People love pizza, decadent mac & cheese, burritos, gourmet bowls – and we have it all, now just better for you and the planet,” she told The Food Institute.

Founded in 2017 and listed on the Nasdaq, the company is in the midst of rolling out dozens of new products to retailers, nearly doubling its product line. Tattooed Chef’s retail distribution tripled from the first quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022. What will become 140 products are to be available at more than 16,000 stores, including such major retailers as Costco, Walmart and Kroger, as well as Target, Publix and Whole Foods.

Experts predict the plant-based foods market will grow to $162 billion in less than a decade. Galletti noted the market already has grown 43% in the past two years, nine times faster than total food sales.

Here’s what Galletti had to say about the future of plant-based foods and what is most palatable to consumers:

Q: Which plant-based foods are consumers most receptive to?

Galletti: There’s a misconception that eating plant-based means sacrificing flavor. People don’t need to make that tradeoff anymore! We hear from consumers – literally daily – how much they enjoy Tattooed Chef food because while we provide better-for-you items, the taste and flavors are just as good (or even better) than the nostalgic food they remember. Consumers want food that tastes delicious, so when they’re eating plant-based, that means they’re most receptive to foods that are extremely rich in flavor and texture.

Q: What is most in demand?

Galletti: More consumers are looking for help – and health – in the kitchen, and we see an increasing demand for convenient, healthy, ready-made foods. On the average weeknight, 63% of plant-based intenders – the 113 million Americans who claim they’re looking to get more plant-based foods in their diet – are cooking with ready-made ingredients, favoring options like our popular vegetable blends.

Q: Who’s driving the shift to plant-based foods?

Galletti: Gen Z consumers are driving this shift in sentiment, but people of all ages are going plant-based for personal, planetary and animal health reasons.

Q: In terms of consumer acceptance, how much of an edge do grain-, nut- and bean-based products have an over mycoprotein? Or do they?

Galletti: Grain-, nut- and bean-based products were largely on the market before mycoprotein hit the scene, but mycoprotein is definitely having a moment. In 2021, we saw more people become flexitarian, and those who were accustomed to eating meat before seemed to appreciate mycoprotein since it can replicate the same flavor and texture. Mycoprotein is also said to be very sustainable and have certain health benefits, so in that sense, I can understand why people like it. In terms of consumer acceptance, however, I think it really just depends on preference.

Q: How do you avoid the quality and supply chain problems that have plagued so many other companies?

Galletti: We operate under a vertical supply chain allowing us to preserve the integrity of our products. At Tattooed Chef, we grow many of our vegetables ourselves in Prossedi, Italy, to ensure a dependable supply of high quality, non-GMO and organic produce. We produce our products in our own facilities here in the U.S. to ensure quality, consistency and freshness. By controlling every step of the process, we’re able to make sure the quality of each dish remains intact.