Nestle joins the vegan race

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 Nestle is looking to take a bite of the fast-growing vegan foods market with a range of plant-based burgers, saying its recipes could compete for taste with traditional beef patties.

The world’s biggest packaged foods group, known for KitKat bars and Nescafe instant coffee, is trying to defend its place in consumers’ shopping carts by making products healthier, with less salt and sugar, and by introducing ranges more in line with modern eating habits.

Demand for meat-free foods is rising fast. Last year total U.S. retail sales of plant-based meat substitutes grew more than 23 percent to exceed $760 million. Food makers also say their latest offerings are tasty enough to tempt more meat eaters’ palates.

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