In addition to selling us inexpensive but attractive furniture, Ikea knows how to do two things really well: hop on hot trends to bring them to the masses, and make meatballs. Ikea now hopes that it will be rolling out its much-anticipated vegan meatballs this fall. According to Bloomberg the Swedish home goods store will make these new meatballs available for in-store testing throughout the summer.
"Ikea is working on the development of a new meatball that looks and tastes like meat but is made from plant based alternative proteins," reads an Ikea press release, from earlier this month. The plan was to begin customer-facing tests early next year. But a recent interview with Ikea's director of food services reveals that we'll get a taste of these meat-like wonders a lot sooner than expected.
Yes, Ikea already sells a vegan meatball, so this doesn't seem like news right away. But that meatball, a.k.a. the Allemansrätten, is made from "clearly visible chunks" of chickpeas, green peas, carrots, corn, bell peppers, and kale. On the company's website, Chef Annika Dunnico says they made it chunky to "show that this is vegetables only."
The trend these days, however, is not for vegetables to please vegetarians. It is for "plant-based" foods to attract the carnivores. Judging by the press release, Ikea is aiming for this product to be more like something from Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, which use advanced technology to make their plant-based products look like they're bleeding.
"We see a growing demand from our customers to have access to more sustainable food options and we want to meet that need," Michael La Cour, the managing director of Ikea Food Services AB, said in the release. "Our ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable without compromising on taste and texture."
We wonder if this latest news means Ikea has put the idea of the mealworm-based "Neatball" on the backburner. Was that just far too exciting to be paired with shopping for bookshelves and lamps?