Future Food Quick Bites: Bean Burgers, Vegan Cheese Tours & No More Oatgurts
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In our weekly column, we round up the latest news and developments in the alternative protein and sustainable food industry. This week, Future Food Quick Bites covers Burger King’s in-demand veggie burger, Armored Fresh’s vegan cheese tour, and Oatly’s withdrawal of its plain yoghurt from the UK.
New products and launches
Veganuary is here! Burger King is bringing back what is its most demanded menu item ever in the UK: the Ultimate Black Bean burger. Launching on January 3, it comes after online petitions and posts imploring the fast-food giant to reintroduce the veggie favourite. Nix the cheese and mayo if you want it vegan.
Also for Veganuary, UK brand Applewood is relaunching its vegan snacking cheese, changing from a circular Mini format to new sticks called Applewood Vegan Bites, featuring its signature smoked cheese.
Pub chain Brewdog is jumping on the Veganuary bandwagon too, partnering with alt-meat brand THIS for a limited-edition drop of Europe’s first skin-on vegan chicken wings made with a seaweed-based crispy skin.
Not to be outdone, fellow UK vegan meat brand VFC has just debuted its first frozen single-serve ready-meal SKUs, a Chick*n Fried Rice made with its plant-based chicken that clocks (clucks) in at under 450 calories and 20 grams of protein, as well as a Chick*n Curry. The company also announced new chilled Chick*n Sausages.
British plant-based range Squeaky Bean just announced its first frozen ingredients range, arriving on Waitrose shelves on January 8th: Seasoned Chicken Style Pieces and Steak Style Pieces, the two products are aimed at making weekday dinners more convenient and designed for stir fry and plant-based taco/flat bread applications.
In the US, plant-based meat maker Shicken has secured distribution deals in 380 Sprouts Farmers Market stores, and is launching a new tikka kebab SKU at Costco UK, as well as a teriyaki kebab in the UK, Iceland, Sweden and France this month.
More stateside Veganuary launches include Subway‘s new Plant Picante sandwich, arriving January 10th, which features a spiced plant patty topped with crispy onions, Sweet Onion and Garlic & Herbs sauces and American-style cheese that can be swapped for Vegan Cheeze for a 100% plant-based option, and fast-casual chain Just Salad‘s collab with Amanda Cohen of the Michelin-starred NYC cult restaurant Dirt Candy. Cohen created a ‘Dirt Candy’ salad bowl made of romaine, arugula, organic sesame tofu, sliced cucumber, shaved broccoli, Tajin-spiced pumpkin seeds, sweet pepperoncini and buttery Castelvetrano olives tossed in a house-made vegan ranch.
Meanwhile, German manufacturer Rügenwalder Mühle has unveiled a 10-year-anniversary campaign during Veganuary with a virtual scavenger hunt hosted by photographer and brand ambassador Paul Ripke. It follows the re-release of its Veganuary 2023 TV ad in December and the launch of a Pulled Pork snack.
French plant-based meat brand Umiami has partnered with two-Michelin-starred French chef Isabelle Arpin, who has been featuring the company’s whole-cut chicken fillet at her eponymous Brussels restaurant.
Over in India, burger chain Biggie’s Burger is launching the Veg Beamer in collaboration with domestic plant-based meat brand GoodDot at all its outlets in Bangalore, a vegan version of their top-selling grilled item featuring GoodDot’s protein slabs.
Fancy a vegan cheese voyage? South Korea’s Armored Fresh is hosting a US coast-to-coast Oat Milk Cheese Tour for buyers and professionals within the grocery, foodservice and QSR channels, beginning from New York and ending in California.
Another South Korean brand, vegan personal care label Dryope has launched in Malaysia after reaching cumulative sales of $1M. The company’s shampoo, treatment, body wash and hair mist products will be available at Watsons, Shopee, Lazada and Zalora.
Nestlé, meanwhile, is exploring the use of plant-based ingredients to bring healthy, affordable proteins to consumers in countries without equitable access to nutrients. It recently launched Maggi Soya Chunks in Central and West Africa.
And Sussex-based semi-professional football club Lewes FC will go fully vegan for its home fixture against Durham in the Barclays Women’s Championship fixture on January 21 to mark Veganuary, with fans able to get a 20% discount on tickets using the code ‘VEGANSROCK’.
Policy and research
In a recommendation to the agriculture, nature and food quality minister, as well as the state secretary of health, welfare and sport, the Health Council of the Netherlands calls for a focus on policies making it easier for people to adopt plant-based diets and reduce meat consumption.
A new study by the University of Exeter demonstrates algae’s viability as a sustainable meat alternative in terms of maintaining and building muscle. It found that spirulina or chlorella intake stimulates myofibrillar protein synthesis in resting and exercised muscle tissue, and to a level equal to mycoprotein.
Dr Alejandro Marangoni, a researcher at the University of Guelph, has developed a solid plant-based fat using the Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan by rearranging the molecules in liquid oils to turn them into solids. Marangoni will work a a plant-based meat company to launch his fat (an alternative to the often used coconut oil) which he says makes for a better, juicier alt-meat product.
In Finland, the University of Helsinki’s research network, the Helsinki Planetary Health Hub, has established a collaboration with tech startup Wellness Foundry and US-based Game Changers Institute to launch an AI-driven plant-based nutrition app. It will launch in Finland and the US first.
Withdrawals and closures
After withdrawing its vegan ice creams from the UK market, oat milk giant Oatly has confirmed that its Oatgurt Plain is no longer on supermarket shelves, though the Greek Style and Strawberry yoghurts continue to be available.
Finally, Berkeley’s veteran vegan taco restaurant Flacos has closed its brick-and-mortar location after 22 years but has hinted at a return in some form, with a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise money to transition to an industrial kitchen.