Ikea Will Test Plant-Based Meatballs Earlier Than Expected

Not only is the plant-based meat revolution upon us, it’s moving at a rapid-fire pace. Almost weekly, another major chain announces its intentions to get into the faux-meat game. This week it was Little Caesars adding Impossible Sausage to pizzas. Before that, Burger King was touting the latest cities to get its Impossible Whopper. Heck, Arby’s even tried to co-opt the hype by announcing that it wouldn’t be serving plant-based meat. The moral: Brands are realizing if they don’t get on this bandwagon quickly, they could get left behind. That might explain why just a couple weeks after announcing plans to add a new type of plant-based meatball to its cafeterias, Ikea is apparently already speeding up its timeline to bring them to market.

On May 10, Ikea announced plans to start testing a new “plant based alternative protein meatball” as soon as early next year. (For the record, Ikea already has its “veggie balls” — and they will remain on the menu — but these new meatballs will apparently more closely resemble real meat.) But today, Bloomberg said that shoppers will likely be seeing them even sooner than that. The business site reports that an interview with Michael La Cour, managing director for Ikea food services, revealed that the new balls are almost finalized and testing could start as soon as this fall, followed by a global rollout next summer.

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La Cour reportedly said that Ikea has a team of eight employees dedicated to working on the new meatless meatballs. Honestly, I have no idea if that is a lot of people or not — making fake meat isn’t my business — but either way, I imagine them working around the clock only taking small breaks in some sort of oddly-named, vibrantly-colored chair. “We see a clear demand for vegetarian options, healthy options,” La Cour was quoted as saying. “There’s a clear shift in behavior.”

Hopefully, for Ikea's sake, that shift in behavior is limited to "avoid eating meat," and not "avoid eating meatballs in the middle of shopping for furniture!"

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