After the EAT-Lancet report, the need for a shift to a more plant-based diet is becoming increasingly clear, for the sake of both health reasons and the climate. Swedish food producers are using their innovative and creative mindset to pioneer this shift and develop sustainable foods for the world – from plant based protein. Do as the Swedes do and eat lagom –“just right” amount of meat.
Did you know that 100 grams of grey pea provide almost the same amount of protein (24.8 grams) as a 100-gram beef burger? Or that the new generation Swedish- produced plant-based products have flavourings that will make you never miss the taste of meat again?
A growing number of people in Europe and North America are taking on a more plant-based or flexitarian diet, making more conscious food choices for health and ethical reasons as well as for the sake of the planet. This dietary shift has led the international food industry to invest in innovative vegetarian and vegan products to meet the growing demand.
Meat consumption in Sweden declined in 2017 for the first time in 30 years and has continued to fall ever since. According to a recent report published by Swedish retail company Axfood, one third of the Swedes chose to eat vegetarian 2-6 times per week, and 22 percent are planning to reduce their meat consumption in 2020. In the US the same trend is being witnessed, where 23 percent are adopting a flexitarian diet, according to a survey made by Herbalife Nutrition.
The global market for meat substitutes was worth around 4.5 billion US dollars in 2018, and it is expected to reach 8 billion dollars by 2026, with annual growth rate of 7,8 percent, according to Allied Market research. It comprises tofu products, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, seitan, Quorn and other plant-based sources. Europe dominated the global meat substitute market in 2018, accounting for 32.6 percent of total revenue, according to Allied Market research.
Swedish food producers such as Anamma, Hälsans Kök and Risenta were early to jump on the plant-based bandwagon years ago, and have established a strong position in the forefront of innovative substitutes for meat. And in the past few years there has been a new generation of innovative and creative Swedish food producers that have been pioneering the market.
“People can’t yet imagine the high-tech innovations going on within the meat substitute business,” says Swedish vegan chef and blogger Gustav Johansson. Johansson, who runs a Swedish vegan blog Jävligt Gott (“Damn Tasty”), identifies two major trends in the meat substitute development.
One is the advanced technical approach, in which American companies such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, but also Swedish companies such as Food for Progress with its Oumph burger and hamburger chain Max Burgers with its Delifresh Plant Beef are advancing rapidly.
”We will see more and more technical, cool products” Johansson says. “We will have eggs that are not eggs and fish that looks like fish but is not, and then of course a meat substitute that no one can imagine.”
Sweden is in the front line of this development, due to a strong culture of innovation and the fact that Swedes tend to be early adopters.
The other trend is higher demands on quality, production and supply as vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets become more mainstream.
“Consumers want high-quality products – Swedish, organic and locally cultivated,” Johansson says. “ They also want a diversified product range, just like any other food category. Sometimes they want hot dogs and other times artisan, premium products.”
Johansson highlights two high-quality Swedish producers in the front line of the premium quality trend: Bärta by Swedish Temptations, which uses organic sprouted and fermented Swedish split peas, and A2O, which makes advanced tempeh products from Swedish produced split peas and the incredibly protein-rich Latvian grey pea.
Another Swedish food company to keep your eyes on is Nordisk Råvara, which cooperates with farmers in different parts of Sweden, employing everything from grey peas and Gotland lentils to the very protein-rich lupin beans.
Award-winning food producer Lupinta focuses on the lupin bean as well, producing tempeh with Swedish farmed beans. Peas of Heaven make a wide range of plant-based products made from yellow pea protein, such as sausages, burgers, peakon (“bacon”) and cold cuts.
Looking at the global growth potential and at the speed in which innovations within the plant based protein food industry are moving, it is still in it’s infancy. And the key to the big breakthrough, according to Gustav Johansson, is taste!
“It’s what the whole next generation in meat substitutes is all about,” he says. “Taste is everything. Just a few years ago there were few appetizing meat-free options. Now it’s all changing.”