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European dairy giant FrieslandCampina has launched into the UK alt meat market for the first time with a new vegetarian chicken alternative range.
The Tender’lish brand – including Chik’n Cheese Escalope, Cripsy Chik’n Fillet Burger, Crunchy Chik’n Tenders and Cripsy Chik’n Fillets – will arrive in UK grocery from early October.
The range has already performed well in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, according to the Dutch dairy co-op, and would now be “the centrepiece of FrieslandCampina’s strategy to invigorate the UK meat-free category”, the supplier told The Grocer this week.
The chicken alternative product is made of 60% skimmed milk and is therefore not suitable for vegan consumers. However, the brand said its dairy content made it a source of high-quality protein and calcium.
It added this base also made it more succulent with a “moist mouthfeel”, designed to replicate the fibrous layers found in real chicken. The range was also said to be a good source of fibre and iron.
The UK launch of Tender’lish will be supported by an ATL campaign, representing an investment of £2m in 2024, alongside shopper activations, sampling, and social and digital marketing activity.
It comes as the alt meat category appears to show signs of decline as the number of meat alternative lines on sale in the traditional big four and Waitrose fell 10.9% during the 26 weeks to 20 March, analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer found.
This shift was acknowledged by Alison Lees, UK marketing lead for Tender’lish, who described the category as “challenging over the past six months”.
“However, at a time when some manufacturers are withdrawing from the UK market, FrieslandCampina is confidently investing for future growth, offering something genuinely new, different and superior within the key growth subset of chicken alternatives,” she said.
“After the success we’ve seen in multiple European territories, and with our Chik’n Cheese Escalope SKU occupying the number one, bestselling spot within the chilled, meat-free category in the Netherlands, the appetite and demand for our products has been clearly established and we’re confident that Tender’lish will take the UK meat-alternative market by storm,” Lees added.
The launch also marks the latest push by a major dairy company into meat-free using dairy as the key ingredient. Lactalis UK & Ireland launched a Seriously Cheese Burgers line last month, with the aim of providing consumers with a vegetarian alternative to standard burgers.