IKEA Announces New Plant-Based Meatballs


The company says it is motivated by environmental concerns.

IKEA's restaurants are known for their Swedish meatballs, typically served with cream sauce, mashed potatoes, and lingonberry jam. Over the years the menu has expanded to include salmon and cod balls, chicken balls, and veggie balls (introduced in 2015 to satisfy vegetarian diners).

Now, IKEA is going one step further, announcing the arrival of plant-based meatballs. These special meatballs are still in development, but a press release says the company is "collaborating with some of the leading suppliers within the industry doing the first tests and tastings." The goal is to offer customer trials in restaurants by early 2020 and eventually serve them in restaurants around the world.

The plant-based meatballs would be similar to the Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat products in that they are designed to recreate the experience of eating meat, minus the animal products. The goal of these products is to convert meat-eaters to plant-based eating without making them feel as if they're missing out on anything in the process.

IKEA says it is motivated by environmental concerns:

"The food industry is facing many challenges and often they are closely connected to sustainability. Research shows that to feed a growing population, 70 percent more food will be needed until 2050, and that currently existing protein production cannot meet that demand."

IKEA has also been hearing from customers who want more sustainable food options. In the words of Michael La Cour, managing director of IKEA's food service, "Our ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable, without compromising on taste and texture." La Cour says he thinks lovers of the traditional meatballs will enjoy the plant-based ones, as well.

It sounds like a great initiative and one that I suspect we'll be seeing more of, as plant-based meat technology improves and becomes more affordable and delicious. This also follows on the heels of IKEA's recent announcement that it plans to grow lettuce, herbs, and other greens to supply eventually all in-store restaurants.