Author: Durk Bosma

Burger King Sweden Doesn’t Tell You if You Are Getting Plant-based or Meat

​In June 2019, Burger King launched their Rebel line, a line of plant-based burgers. To give the launch a boost, the ’50 -50 menu ‘has been launched in Sweden. Guests who order a burger from this menu do not know in advance whether they will be served the animal or vegetable variant, the kitchen system randomly selects what will be served. In Burger King’s own words, the taste and structure of the vegetable Rebel Whopper and the Rebel Chicken King cannot be distinguished from the meat variant.

Daniel Schröder, marketing director for Burger King Sweden “With the 50/50 Menu, we hope that more people dare to try them. And hopefully have fun trying to figure out which one they got. ” Afterwards, customers can find out which citizen they had via a code on the packaging. The 50-50 menu is now available in all branches of Sweden and will soon be launched throughout Europe.

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Eco-consumption No Longer a Status Symbol But Mainstream


Sustainable consumption is no longer a status symbol. Sustainable alternatives are widely available, affordable and as good or sometimes even better than the less sustainable variants that were traditionally available. However, buying the unsustainable option now involves eco-shame. Consumers are actively looking for products and brands that help them avoid this embarrassment. According to, ‘Green pressure’ will even be the most important consumer trend in 2020 .

From exclusive sports car to mainstream family car
Think back to the first Tesla, the Roadster. This electric sports car cost $100,000 and was very exclusive. A status symbol. Now, the Model 3 retails for $ 35,0000 (US) and is a competitor to regular family cars. No longer status symbol. But if you buy a gas-guzzling SUV, you have to explain to your neighbor why you think that is still responsible nowadays.

Moral change
If sustainable options become mainstream, the status aspect as a buying motive will no longer apply. After all, it is available to everyone. Instead, a different moral standard emerges. There is no longer any reason not to opt for the sustainable option. So you must have a good reason not to choose the sustainable variant. If you do not have one, you will not meet the standard and you will suffer from eco-shame.

This is already in full swing for air travel. It is not without reason that Easyjet was the first airline to start offsetting CO2 emissionsKLM is also working on the development of biokerosene.

Effect in the supermarket is still limited
We still expect limited effects in the supermarket in 2020, based on our Future of Food survey among 1,500 consumers. This has to do with a number of barriers experienced by consumers in sustainable consumption. Apart from hard-to-change consumption patterns, for many product categories the consumer is not sure what the sustainable option is. Also, a good, more sustainable replacement is not yet available for many products.

However, FMCG marketers cannot sit back. As soon as sustainable alternatives are available, many consumers will switch. And then you can better ensure that your alternative is the sustainable option.

Vegan Cowboys on the Hunt for Fungus That Makes Milk From grass

Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman are on the hunt for a fungus. And not just any: a fungus that can convert grass into milk. That is the missing puzzle piece to make vegan dairy products. They are offering a bounty of 2.5 million euros to those who can deliver what they are looking for. “We can’t wait to meet your fungus,” they write on their website.

Milk substitutes based on soy, oats or almonds are already available, but Koffeman and Korteweg want to go a step further: make milk straight  from grass without the intervention of a cow. The principle is simple: Those Vegan Cowboys want to mechanically mimic how a cow digests grass. The ruminants have a system of four stomachs that break down the grass with the help of micro-organisms into separate building blocks. The cow eventually converts that into milk. Koffeman and Korteweg are looking for a fungus that can do the same. Put it in a kettle with grass, let it ferment and after a while the components of milk will come out.

Korteweg and Koffeman are not the only ones developing utter-free dairy. In fact, Perfect Day’s synthetic milk has been on the market for several years. The American company also makes yogurt, cheese and ice cream.
Perfect Day has developed a genetically modified yeast that converts vegetable sugars into milk proteins. An additional benefit: their milk does not contain lactose, so people with lactose intolerance can drink it without any problems.

Korteweg also wants to make animal-free, lactose-free dairy, but with grass. “Grass is very sustainable. It grows by itself. You can harvest it and it just keeps growing. Without fertilizers or pesticides, ”he told BN DeStem in 2019. The production process of Those Vegan Cowboys requires at least five times less grass than the current way of making milk with cows, says Korteweg, who already dreams aloud about a new layout for the Dutch landscape: giving back unneeded grassland to nature.

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Ethics as a Business Model

UK Based delivery platform Get Vegan Grub wants to be an ethical alternative to Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eats. Apart from only offering vegan dishes, the platform is embedding non-violence throughout its business. Research is done on companies before partnering with them: do they pay their workers decent wages? Do they play fairly in their marketplace?

They pledge not to overcharge restaurants. There are no joining fees or monthly minimums, either. They only work with smaller and independent restaurants, and encourages chefs to use environmentally-friendly packaging.

All this is a response to the unethical ways of working by their larger competitors, underpaying workers and overcharging the restaurants that depend on them. And although we can’t expect the competitors to change their ways of working drastically, when alternatives like Get Vegan Grub catch on the large players might be nudged to change their ways. And that is when initiatives like Get Vegan Grub really make an impact.

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The New Frontier for Meat Substitutes: Health

Up till now manufacturers of meat substitutes mainly focused on taste and texture. The more their products resembled real meat, the more successful they would be. This will not change. But the new battle ground is health.

It has always been clear that plant-based meat is better for animals planet. And most will agree that its better for the planet. But there has always been some doubt about whether plant-based meat was healthier. Most plant-based meat alternatives are considered highly processed. According to meat lobbyist Will Coggin: “Real burgers and sausages are made from beef, pork and spices. “Fake meat” is an “ultra-processed” imitation of meat with many ingredients such as methyl cellulose, titanium dioxide and disodium inosinate. ” This gave fuel to meat industries attempts to criticize their plant-based competition.

But that is going to change. To attract a growing segment of health conscious consumers, manufacturers of plant-based meat will need to work on the nutritional value of their products.

Here is an excellent example: Heura, a Barcelona-based vegan meat startup, has just launched a new burger they call the healthiest on the market. Thanks to its innovative fat analogue that helps transform extra virgin olive oil into a solid form, Heura’s latest plant-based burger is able to provide the sensory experience of meat while drastically reducing the amount of saturated fat and increasing its protein content.  It contains 64%  less fat compared to traditional beef burgers, 86% less saturated fat than conventional beef, and 11% more protein per calorie.

It transforms extra virgin olive oil, which is healthier and importantly more sustainable than coconut oil, into a solid fat format – a quality that gives the burger the desired texture and juicy bite of real meat without the negative health and environmental impacts.

​Heura says that this burger is the first and the only plant-based burger to date made with extra virgin olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat known to help improve blood cholesterol levels. Other key ingredients in the new burger include pea protein and vegetable fibre.

The Barcelona based startup’s range of plant-based alternatives, which also includes chicken substitutes, stands out in the fast-growing vegan meat sector for its “clean” label. On average, its products contain 40% fewer ingredients than other alternatives on the market.

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How Plant-Based Cheese Can Save the Dairy Farmers’ Business model

If dairy farms want to remain in business, they will have to (partially) switch to other products. Willicroft, a Dutch vegan cheese maker wants to help farmers. By growing white beans instead of milking cows, the farmers can make ends meet and meet the sustainability requirements of the future. Willicroft then turns these beans into climate-friendly cheese.

Willicroft’s plan helps both sides. Today, they makes cheese from nuts, and although nuts emit less greenhouse gas than cows, it is still a process that is not optimal for the environment. Moreover, it is difficult to make nut cheese on a large scale because the supply is limited. By switching to white beans, the cheese can become much more environmentally friendly and can be produced on a larger scale.

The problem is that there are not enough European white beans. According to Willicroft, the demand for beans has increased in recent years, partly due to the growing popularity of meat substitutes and plant based cheese, but production lagged behind. That is beans are now imported from distant countries, where transport causes extra emissions and cultivation is not done in a climate-friendly manner.

If dairy farmers participate in the plan, a lot of white beans will soon be coming from the Netherlands. They can then be exported to other countries, just as currently dairy products are. For this, the farmers must be willing to participate. Willicroft has found a dairy farmer who will not be growing cows in part of the country, but beans. This pilot must demonstrate that the business model that Willicroft devised is feasible.

Ultimately, Willicrof thinks that farmers can make a good profit from the beans, in combination with (fewer) cows. “But that is a process of years,” says Tim Keijzer of Willicroft. “It takes time to set up such a system. The demand for beans has to rise even further, and we have to compete with other countries that produce beans very cheaply. But we think that is possible. ”

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Insect: the Future of Food?

A thriving industry looks promising if consumer aversion can be overcome

Just now, Efsa, the European food authority has approved meal-worms as human food. According to the authority, mealworms are safe to be eaten. This makes mealworms the first insects to receive this approval. There’s a certain yuck factor that has prevented insect meals from becoming mainstream, a stereotype that a growing number of startups, such as Ellie, are trying to change.

Ellie operated a pop-up shop in Tokyo, where it sold silkworm burgers, soup and snacks. An excellent trial research attempt. They have expanded in relevance in recent years as population growth and urbanization have led to increasing demand for food while simultaneously polluting land and water resources through livestock production and overgrazing.

Another example is cricket powder used in snacks created by Gryllus, a Tokushima University-backed venture and one of Japan’s leading startups breeding and producing edible crickets.

As lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic hit the supply chains of global meat product manufacturers, demand for alternative protein sources such as plant-based meat is rising already. But also insect-based foods could see an uptick, according to some analysts. According to a landmark 2013 report by the FAO, titled “Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feeds Security”, pigs produce 10 to 100 times more greenhouse gases per kilogram than meal-worms. And Global Market Insights forecasts the market for edible insects to soar to $1.5 billion in 2026 from $112 million in 2019.

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Food Innovation Hubs: Innovation with a Purpose

Innovation is critical to bring about a fundamental shift in the way our food is produced and consumed. The World Economic Forum, the Government of Netherlands and several public and private sector partners are launching Food Innovations Hub as a key multistakeholder platform.

The Food Innovation Hubs are aimed at leveraging technology and broader innovations to strengthen local innovation ecosystems accelerate transformation for the Food Systems.

This has been launched with multi-year funding from the Government of Netherlands with a Global Coordinating Secretariat based in The Netherlands.
​The Food Innovation Hubs will be a flagship initiative of the Food Action Alliance leading to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, and beyond.

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