tmrw toronto

Toronto restaurant chain has pivoted to launch plant-based protein line after closing

A restaurant chain that had recently opened a successful Toronto location before the pandemic hit and closed it down has now pivoted to launching their own plant protein, similar to an Impossible product or Beyond Meat but also aiming to be totally different from what's on the market now.

The people behind vegan pizza chain Virtuous Pie have come out with their own plant-based protein called TMRW. Their burgers, sausage patties and ground are currently available in Toronto, and the BC-based company also makes sausages.

Virtuous Pie closed their only Toronto location on June 14, but three BC locations, as well as another in Portland, are still operating.

"Our goal is not to replicate animal protein, we're taking plant-protein to the next level," reads TMRW's website. "Untethered from imitation, we know our proteins can taste better, provide improved nutrition, cost less and be better for the planet than animal-based proteins."

The protein, 100 per cent plant-based, is non-GMO and soy-free.

"Our products are made primarily from whole food ingredients used in functional ways - including quinoa, kidney beans and split peas, and textured wheat protein," TMRW company president Dean Blignaut told blogTO.

"We are currently working on our own proprietary gluten-free protein blend and will be transitioning over from using textured wheat protein to our gluten-free protein in the spring."

Blignaut was part of the leadership team at Virtuous Pie from 2017 until 2020, then shifted his focus entirely to TMRW as of early 2020.

"TMRW and Virtuous Pie are sister companies and share commonalities in terms of their values, mission and business structures, and are intertwined in other ways like Virtuous Pie using TMRW protein as toppings for some pizza options," says Blignaut.

While they've been using TMRW as a topping at Virtuous Pie, the protein started out with what all meat substitutes are judged by: their ability to create a good burger.

"TMRW's first product was the TMRW Burger. We recognized an opportunity to create a product that would provide an exceptional eating experience, but containing more familiar and good-for-you ingredients. The process started really simply, with a burger competition at the Virtuous Pie office, that everyone from accounting to marketing participated in," says Blignaut.

"The first prototype was made in Dean's tiny Gastown kitchen, and after countless iterations, the TMRW Burger was born. Our goal has never been to exactly replicate or mimic meat, but instead to capture the essence of what makes meat enjoyable to eat and to imbue that in every product we make."

In this way, they're hoping to capture the attention of not only vegans and vegetarians, but omnivores as well. They're hoping consumers would even entertain the concept of mixing TMRW with actual meat in dishes.

"Seeing our growth from a few retailers in BC to now being carried in chains like Whole Foods and Healthy Planet has been so rewarding. It's also been incredible to see the response from local community retailers as well, who have been amazing when it comes to supporting a local Canadian plant-based brand like ours," says Blignaut.

"It's been a challenging time to launch a brand, so we have been especially humbled and grateful for the response we have gotten thus far and look forward to continually improving our current offering and launching more products in the coming months."

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