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Tindle Expands Plant-Based Chicken into U.S. Retail

Tindle Foods said Tuesday it has made its U.S. retail debut in multiple outlets, including Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, FreshDirect in the Northeast, and in several independent stores in Hawaii and California.

The Chicago-based maker of plant-based chicken alternatives has gained a national presence in the foodservice market since it launched in U.S. restaurants last year, and its restaurant experience has helped inform its retail product development, JJ Kass, senior vice president, business development, and U.S. managing director, Tindle Foods, told SFA News Daily.

“We’re learning from what we see in foodservice, because that’s where the trends start,” she said.

Tindle has had some retail presence in the U.S. through pop-ups and online sales, and has also recently rolled out products at Morrisons and Whole Foods Market in the U.K. and at Edeka in Germany.

All of its retail items are frozen, and packaged in colorful, stand-up bags that showcase the products’ high protein content and non-GMO ingredients. At select Giant Eagle locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, Tindle will offer three of its most popular products—Patties, Tenders, and Wings, while online retailer FreshDirect will carry Tindle Patties, Nuggets, and Wings. Tindle products will also be available at Orchard Grocer, a vegan deli and market on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

In California, Tindle Chicken products will be offered at Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley; Besties Vegan Paradise in Los Angeles; Harvest Market in Fort Bragg and Mendocino; Pacific Market in Sonoma County, and Piazza’s in Palo Alto and San Mateo. In Hawaii, Tindle Chicken is offered in Mana Foods in Paia.

All of the products feature the same, unique recipes for the breading and seasoning that the company has developed for its restaurant products, said Kass.

Kass said Tindle has seen the most success in U.S. foodservice with its breaded chicken patty, which is generally used to make a fried chicken sandwich. The product that the company offers in foodservice, and subsequently in retail, is larger than that of some competitors, and designed so that it covers the whole bun, an attribute that had been requested by foodservice operators, she explained.

The Tindle boneless wings recently rolled out in foodservice, and will be available at both Giant Eagle and FreshDirect. Kass said the product has a peppery coating that mimics what consumers might expect to find if they ordered a basket of wings at a restaurant.

Kass described the expansion into bricks-and-mortar retail as a “significant step” for the company. It is partnering with distributors KeHE and United Natural Foods Inc. on its retail rollout.

Product Promotions

To help introduce the new products at retail, Tindle is seeking to incentivize trial with various promotions, including a $2 off deal in December and a buy-one, get-one free promo in January, both at Giant Eagle. At FreshDirect, all members will receive a free Tindle sample with their order in January.

“We very strongly believe trial is the most important thing,” said Kass, who noted that the company does have some name recognition from its branded presence on restaurant menus.

“We have that benefit of driving millions of trials on the restaurant side,” she said.

Tindle is also incentivizing KeHE and UNFI to provide its retail customers with the opportunity to promote the new items, Kass said.

The move into U.S. retail follows the company’s announcement in September of its first product wholly developed and manufactured in the U.S., the Tindle Breakfast Sausage, which is currently available only in foodservice outlets. It was developed in the company’s research and development facility in Chicago, which it opened in 2022 in partnership with food business incubator The Hatchery Chicago.

Kass acknowledged that sales growth of plant-based products has slowed, but noted that frozen products, including chicken and chicken analogs, have continued to perform well at retail.

The sales boom spurred by the introduction of Impossible and Beyond has entered what she called a “correction” phase, but Kass said she believes brands that offer healthful and flavorful plant-based products will prevail.

“First and foremost, products need to be delicious, and that is the core of what we have built,” she said.

She also said Tindle has worked to minimize its ingredient list for its core chicken substrate product to appeal to consumers concerned about health and nutrition.

“People really want to know what these ingredients are, and just how processed the product is, on the scale of processed food,” said Kass.

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