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From a popup vegan chocolate store to a vegan version of McDonald’s to blind tastings at a meat festival, this week’s news items are full of alternative protein companies’s unusual and sometimes wacky ways to turn more consumers onto plant-based proteins. Meanwhile, Swedish meal kit company Enkla kassen hit a milestone with both a new fundraise and a new CEO.
Sweden: Kale United invests €1 million in Enkla kassen
Kale United acquired vegan meal kit company Enkla Kassen in 2021 with the goal of making the company a leader in Sweden. The new investment will allow Enkla to expand its offerings, which are currently available to about 70% of the population in Sweden, into international markets in the future.
Bea Garcia, founder of grocery store chain Lifvs, will step in as CEO of Enkla lassen. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to take the helm at Enkla Kassen,” she said in a statement. “The founders have built a stable and scalable tech platform with tremendous potential.”
UK/US: Wicked Kitchen launches lupin-based ice cream alternative
Lupin beans, widely eaten as a picked snack in the Mediterranean, get a new use case as part of vegan food company Wicked Kitchen’s new dairy-free ice cream. The company’s founders say they used lupini beans for their neutral taste and natural creaminess.
The Wicked Kitchen ice cream will be available in several flavors at more than 2,000 Kroger stores across the US in April.
US: Mr. Charlie’s veganizes the McDonald’s concept in Los Angeles
Plant-based restaurant Mr Charlie’s has been calling itself a vegan version of McDonald’s and getting a lot of attention lately for its “Unhappie Meal,” “Not a Cheeseburger,” and other items that look like McDonald’s fare but are strictly vegan.
The restaurant hires individuals transitioning out of homelessness and is seeking to provide a healthier overall alternative to the fast food giant.
Australia: Love BUDS to debut as Meatstock Australia’s first plant-based protein
Plant-based is not meat, but nor is it “sh!t,” according to alt-protein company Love BUDS.
The company will debut its plant-based burgers and Italian sausages at the meat-centric BBQ Meatstock festivals in April and May. Guests will be able to vote on products and participate at blind tasting sessions where they can guess between traditional meat and Love BUDS alternatives.
According to a news release, meat lovers that don’t want to try the plant-based products “can dunk a member of the BUDS team all weekend.”
US: Noodles & Company tests panko chicken with Impossible
The fast-casual restaurant chain launched the Impossible Panko Chicken dish in select US stores in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon this month.
Noodles is featuring the new item in its Orange Chicken Lo Mein dish. Customers can also substitute any animal-based chicken item with the new Impossible product, which is yet another iteration of the company’s roster of chicken alternatives.
UK: Cadbury vegan popup shop coming to London
Just in time for Easter, confectionary company Cadbury has opened a fully vegan pop-up store in London’s Soho neighborhood for a few days only.
The shop will feature Cadbury’s Plant Bars, which launched in UK supermarkets in 2021. Flavors include smooth chocolate and smooth chocolate with salted caramel pieces.
US: Mill It launches the first-ever vegan buttermilk
The company uses ancient grains millet and sorghum to culture and ferment an alternative to traditional dairy-based buttermilk, saying these ingredients are more planet-friendly than oats and almonds used in other popular alt-dairy products.
The product is available at select Whole Foods, Sprout’s, and other retailers in the US from $4.99 to $5.99.
US: PlantPub opens second location of vegan pub concept
The new location of vegan celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s concept will open across the street from Boston’s Fenway Park and be much bigger than the restaurant’s flagship location.
As the name suggests, PlantPub items are meant to mimic traditional pub fare like burgers, buffalo wings, and pizzas using all plant-based ingredients. As the location is across the street from the home of the Red Sox, baseball stadium fare such as hot dogs and nachos will also be available in plant-based form.
US: Gott’s offering vegan chicken buckets for March Madness
Flexitarian and vegan basketball fans in California can head to Gott’s restaurants to pick up a sharable bucket of vegan chicken nuggets made with Impossible’s product. The bucket offering is available for a limited time and comes with 40 plant-based chicken nuggets a side of fries and three sauces. (Sauces are not vegan.)
Meanwhile, Gott’s is making Impossible’s nuggets a permanent part of the menu after a successful trial.
US: Good Catch plant-based tuna arrives at Sprout’s stores
Gathered Foods is launching plant-based tuna from its Good Catch brand at Sprout’s stores across the US. This is the second partnership between the alt-protein company and the US-based retailer.
The alt-tuna products are free of mercury, microplastics, GMOs, and dairy, and available in three flavors: Naked in Water, a 1:1 swap for traditional tuna; Mediterranean; and Oil & Herbs. Each pouch retails for $3.99.
US: CP Kelco launches new ingredients for plant-based meats
Ingredient solutions company CP Kelco has introduced new roster of clean-label, nature-based inputs can be used by companies formulating plant-based burger and sausage alternatives.
These include an alternative to methylcellulose that adds texture and bite, a pectin product upcycled from spent citrus peels, another texturizing ingredient that allows for a robust meaty flavor, and a fiber boost.
Lead image courtesy of Enkla kassen/Kale United.