IKEA is About to Roll out New Vegan Swedish 'Meatballs'

The giant retailers iconic signature dish will now have an even better and sustainable tasty meatball variety.


(Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock.com)

The Swedish meatball is IKEA's signature dish. Served with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry jam, it has been a mainstay in the giant retailers' cafeterias for over 35 years. Now the Swedish retail giant is working on a new version that looks like meat, tastes like meat but is made from plant-based proteins and is completely vegan.

“We know that the IKEA meatballs are loved by the many people and for years the meatballs have been the most popular dish in our restaurants” Michael La Cour, Managing Director at IKEA Food Services AB, said in a press release. “We see a growing demand from our customers to have access to more sustainable food options and we want to meet that need."

There is a growing trend in the food industry to make more sustainable food. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has shown that 70 percent more food will be needed by 2050, and the current protein sources will not be able to meet this demand. Plant-based or vegan alternatives to meat and dairy are far more sustainable and growing in popularity.

Consumers are making the decision to turn to vegan products as they look for healthy, nutritious foods that are environmentally sustainable. According to Mintel, one-third of all Americans and 37 percent of millennials plan to eat more plant-based products over the next year.

It makes a lot of sense for IKEA, which has a deep commitment to sustainability, to be planning on adding this new plant-based meatball to its menu. A vegan hotdog was introduced last year and sold one million in the first two months in Europe, according to Fast Company. In fact, 7 million vegan hotdogs have already been sold.

In 2015, IKEA added both veggie balls and chicken balls to its product range and in 2018 the salmon and cod ball was introduced. The new alternative protein meatball will be the fifth member of the IKEA meatball family.

Other companies have recently introduced realistic plant-based vegan items to their menus. Burger King will be going national with their Impossible whopper. White Castle and Carl's Jr also use Impossible Foods burgers. America's largest meat producer Tyson will also soon be offering vegan products.

IKEA is working with some of the leading suppliers of vegan protein products and doing taste tests of plant-based alternatives for the meatballs. What's in them has not been revealed. In fact, eight employees are working exclusively on the meatballs.

The new meatballs will be in-store customer tested in the fall of 2019 with a global rollout in all 400 stores in the summer of 2020. That's faster than the trials were originally scheduled for. They will join the other varieties of meatballs – the original, chicken, fish, and Grönsaksbulla – on the menu.

"Our ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable without compromising on taste and texture,” La Cour said.

“It is a really exciting industry! Looking at the quality of the products that we have been tasting I am looking forward to serving a delicious plant-based meatball made from alternative protein at IKEA. I hope that the many meatball lovers out there will like it as well.”

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