After 800 Recipe Tweaks, This Vegan Foie Gras Keeps Selling Out
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Hello Plant Foods can’t keep its vegan foie gras, Fuah!, in stock.
Following King Charles’ recent ban on foie gras at all royal residences, the longtime decadent favorite food got an ethical makeover. The royal ban follows other efforts to restrict foie gras including bans in California and New York.
Spanish plant-based meat brand Hello Plant Foods first announced its vegan foie gras last month, several weeks after King Charles announced the royal ban. The brand says it’s also the first vegan foie gras for food service distribution.
Hello Plant Foods didn’t take the responsibility of recreating the popular luxury food lightly; the company says it tested 800 recipes over the course of a year before its launch.
The market appeared to be ready; just 12 hours after it launched 5,000 units of the product, it sold out at supermarkets and specialty stores across Spain. A second production round of 30,000 units also sold out.
Hello Plant Foods is capitalizing on a market gap; only Nestlé’s limited edition vegan foie gras has widespread European placement, but demand is high.
“We’re absolutely gobsmacked,” Javier Fernández, Hello Plant Foods founder, told The Guardian. “Our plan was to start slowly … but we’ve just increased our production sevenfold. It’s crazy.”
Fernández launched Hello Plant Foods during the pandemic with the goal of developing vegan products that mimic organic meats; foie gras is made from duck and geese livers.
Hello Plant Foods says it mimics the taste and texture of conventional foie gras using cashews, coconut oil, lentil flour, potato starch, and spices. The Spain-produced foie gras costs about half as much as conventional.
“Our vegan foie gras is so similar to the traditional animal product that consumers will not notice the difference. Everyone who tries it says that it is hyper-realistic. We are sure that soon many more people will take the step and join our vegan alternative because more and more consumers are becoming aware of the food’s impact on the environment,” Fernández said.
“Hello Fuah! will become the category’s benchmark product and will be available throughout the year,” says Fernández. The company also makes vegan burgers and bacon.
But all focus is now on Fuah! as Fernández says there’s a “hidden” consumer that loves foie gras. “But what happens is that a photo of the ducks with the tubes sticking out of them flashes before them and they don’t want it,” he said. “When they try Fuah! their eyebrows shoot up and they go: ‘Madre Mia.’”
Alternative foie gras products on the rise
As activists continue to sound the alarm on the excessive cruelty of the foie gras industry, upstarts and big food names alike are developing alternatives. Late last year, Nestlé’s Garden Gourmet launched a limited-edition vegan ‘voie gras’ ahead of the holiday season. Japan’s Dr Foods uses fermented koji for its vegetarian version; and French alt protein startup just scored a record funding round for its cultivate foie gras and in October last year.