IKEA Debuts Food Innovation Program For Startups To Meet 50% Plant-Based Meal Target

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Back in November of last year, home furnishing giant IKEA pledged to make at least 50% of its main menu offerings across its restaurant section plant-based by 2025. Now, IKEA Material Innovation & Development Leader Puneet Trehan aims to fulfil this pledge by searching for start-ups that can collaboratively work together to provide accessible and affordable plant-based meals for consumers.

The Swedish furniture retailer had announced its new food commitment back in 2020 stating that it is “taking the next step towards making healthy and sustainable food more affordable and desirable” by making around half of its main meals and 80% of its packaged food plant-based.

In the past to support sustainability, IKEA launched its veggie hot dog and in 2020, it unveiled a plant ball, which is developed from yellow pea protein, oats, potatoes, onion, and apples, with the company claiming it has only 4% of its traditional meatball’s carbon footprint.

Now, to execute its pledge by 2025, through a Food Innovation Accelerator Program, IKEA will be looking for startups to collaborate with and develop sustainable and innovative solutions that can help scale the plant-based food business development.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, material innovation area manager at IKEA, Puneet Trehan, said that the philosophy around IKEA’s food offerings has been constantly evolving. “As the food business will continue to grow, we need to make sure that the growth follows the overall ambitions IKEA has set when it comes to sustainability. To develop a more sustainable food offer, we need to work with both big-scale industry leaders and innovative start-ups. We want to connect with the forefront of innovation, and the agility and speed of a start-up can bring a unique proposition to IKEA. Innovation can be painful, and start-ups can really challenge our existing ways of working and ways of thinking. No pain, no gain.”

Puneet Trehan. Source: IKEA

To develop a more sustainable food offer, we need to work with both big-scale industry leaders and innovative start-ups. We want to connect with the forefront of innovation, and the agility and speed of a start-up can bring a unique proposition to IKEA

Puneet Trehan, material innovation area manager at IKEA

The IKEA Food innovation accelerator program will not look at alternative proteins on an ingredient level but more as a finished meal solution. “We are looking for start-ups to help us with proteins beyond peas or chickpeas, but we are also looking for innovations around texture and re-use of by-products to avoid food waste. We see great opportunities around circularity.”

Trehan further explains that a startup collaborating with IKEA in this program can expect growth volume, market access as well as immense learning. He shared that the difference between this program and the previous IKEA Bootcamp is that the latter usually targets startups to hear out new ideas in varied fields and give them the support needed. However, this program is solely dedicated to food innovation and will deep dive into the entire value chain and then work on different solutions.

We are looking for start-ups to help us with proteins beyond peas or chickpeas, but we are also looking for innovations around texture and re-use of by-products to avoid food waste

Puneet Trehan, material innovation area manager at IKEA

Given that 680 million customers consume IKEA’s food offerings in its restaurants and bistros around the globe in 2019, this pledge, if executed, will offer massive emissions savings with a fair amount of impact.

The Food innovation Accelerator program is supported by Impact Hub, startups can read more on how to participate in the program here.


Lead image courtesy of IKEA.


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