Move over, meat.
Ikea is beefing up the plant-based version of its signature Swedish meatballs — and announced the news the same day that meatless alternative brand Beyond Meat /zigman2/quotes/211617595/composite BYND +3.37% went public with the biggest one-day pop for an IPO since 2000, nearly tripling its stock price.
Ikea is as famous across the globe for its meatballs. The meatballs are positioned just behind the cash registers. They are, of course, a reward for people who have spent their time — and money — buying flatpack furniture and cheap cookware.
In fact, the company serves some 650 million diners globally a year, adding up to around $1.8 billion in sales in 2016. And almost one-third of Ikea customers say they actually go to the stores just to eat, not to shop.
And while it has been serving vegan meatballs ( called Grönsaksbullar ) mixed with chickpeas, green peas, corn and kale in U.S. stores since 2015, managing director of Ikea Food Services AB Michael La Cour said in a statement that the company is working with “suppliers to craft a more realistic vegan meatball.
It’s all part of the blooming plant-based “meat” trend, as one-third of all Americans (and 37% of millennials in particular) plan to eat more plant-based products over the next year, Mintel reports. Burger King will start flipping meatless Impossible Whoppers with Impossible Foods later this year, parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202094900/composite QSR +1.03% confirmed. Burger chains White Castle and Carl’s Jr. have also begun grilling plant-based Impossible Foods patties for its burgers.
Nestle /zigman2/quotes/210131093/delayed NSRGY -0.14% the world’s largest food company, announced last month that it’s debuting its own plant-based burgers across supermarkets in the U.S. and Europe later this year. And Tyson /zigman2/quotes/201117502/composite TSN -0.77% , America’s largest meat producer famous for its hot dogs, steak strips and chicken nuggets, will also soon offer vegan protein.
Ikea, meanwhile, didn’t share more details about which plant-based proteins (or which alternative protein companies) it’s working with at this time. It plans to test the new vegan meatballs with shoppers beginning early next year, and to roll them out to Ikea in-store cafes across the globe afterward.
Ikea also added a vegan hot dog to its menus last year made with kale, red lentils, quinoa, onions and carrots. They sold one million of them in Europe in the first two months, according to Fast Company . Last month, European locations began dishing a dairy-free strawberry vegan soft-serve ice cream, which should also be spreading to international Ikea locations later this year.