What started out as a a reputation for being little more than rabbit food is getting reinvented, and options are more interesting and indulgent than ever. Vegan versions of comfort food classics that don’t skimp on flavor — and richness — are soaring in popularity.

With the rise in plant-based diets and healthy foods, companies are starting to focus on providing foods that make consumers physically feel good. And Upton’s Naturals dishes, alone or added as a meal, are just what consumers have been craving in variety.

Satisfying the Mainstream Consumer

When it comes to vegan heat-and-eat side dishes and ingredients for ready meals, consumers are looking for quality choices that feature clean, simple ingredients. In today’s health-conscious marketplace, nutrition and ingredient choices are just as important as convenience.

Upton’s Naturals began in 2006 when founder Dan Staackmann introduced the first flavored seitan to market. At the time, only one company was making seitan and without flavored options. Staackmann started experimenting and created Upton’s Naturals’ first product, Italian Seitan. Ten years later, and after trying a jackfruit dish in a Nepalese restaurant, he and Vice President Nicole Sopko launched the first pre-seasoned young jackfruit to American, European and Australian markets. Since then, the company has introduced shelf-stable, pre-cooked, Thai-inspired vegan meal kits and launched the first vegan, shelf-stable, precooked mac & cheese.

“We take recipes that have been around for thousands of years and update them for the modern palate of today’s consumer. From our pre-seasoned, heat-and-eat jackfruit to our flavored seitan and Ch’eesy Mac, we set out to make vegan foods easier to enjoy and more accessible to the everyday consumer,” says Natalie Slater, Upton’s Naturals’ marketing manager.

Seitan has a meat-like texture and is both high in protein and low in fat without the cholesterol associated with meat. Upton’s Naturals’ seitan also comes in familiar flavors and is easy to use in a variety of plant-based dishes, making it a great option for vegan newcomers. The brand offers Italian, Bacon, Chorizo, Traditional, Ground and Chick Seitan, all of which offer a good source of protein, are Non-GMO Project Verified, free of artificial flavors, oil, trans fat and cholesterol, and low in fat and carbs.

New Packaging Design

“With so much growing interest in vegan products, our customer base has shifted from veteran vegans to mainstream consumers,” says Slater. “It was time for our packaging to help educate these shoppers about our products’ use and versatility and for our designs to do a better job of standing out on shelf and keeping shoppers’ attention.”

The updated packaging is colorful, engaging and features ready-to-eat, plated dishes on the front of each package. From jackfruit tacos and banana blossom fish-and-chips to bacon mac and cheese and Thai spaghetti, the photography shows mouth-watering meals that you can make. Upton’s Naturals also expanded on the cooking instructions on the packaging.

The mustached man is Upton, who was designed by a friend and local Chicago-based artist named Johnny Sampson. The brand likes the turn-of-the-last-century aesthetic that Upton brings to the brand. They kept that inspiration when working with Billy Baumann of Delicious Design League to design the new packaging, which features a Victorian style that complements the Upton character.

The packaging itself is paperboard, and the product inside is either vacuum-sealed in plastic or packaged in a retort pouch for freshness. The brand is looking into a resealable packaging option for the future.

Upton’s Naturals products are available in over 5,000 stores across the U.S. and in 15 countries worldwide.

See the entire portfolio at uptonsnaturals.com.