The Dutch company Vivera launched the vegetable steak first in Great Britain in May. “We wanted to generate optimal impact,” says Gert Jan Gombert, who is one of the speakers at the Foodvalley Summit Proteins of the Future on 10 October 2018 in Ede.
“Moreover, the British retailer Tesco was extremely enthusiastic. Tesco wanted to put the steak on the shelves with the May launch, when many new products were introduced. We had to make an effort to deliver the products on time.”
“We first announced the introduction on a Friday and the following Monday it was confirmed by Tesco. I sent press releases to newspapers and magazines throughout Europe, but also to glossy magazines. For two weeks I have only been busy talking to the media. Why was there so much attention? Because a vegetable steak is the ‘holy grail’ of the meat substitutes. It has a different structure than other meat substitutes. It’s a steak, but it’s plant based.”
“The first delivery of 40,000 packages was sold out within a few days. That scarcity helped us, because then everyone wanted it. A lot of people wrote about it on social media, and even now there are 5 to 7 posts a day on Instagram from consumers who are positive about the product.”
“Since 11 June, the vegetable steak is also available in the Netherlands and Belgium. We have scaled up production, but there is still more demand than we can deliver. This is due to a powder in the ‘meat juice’ based on, among other things, beet juice. That ingredient was not sufficiently available because we had estimated too low how much we would need.”
Vivera worked in silence for 1.5 years on the development of the vegetable steak. The company wanted to surprise the market. Now the company is working on new products that approach the properties of meat products even more. Gombert expects in 10 to 15 years consumers do not longer taste the difference between the two. “Then why should you slaughter another animal?”
100 million turnover
The total turnover of meat substitutes in the retail sector in the Netherlands has now passed the limit of 100 million euros annually. Gombert expects turnover in 2018 to be about 105-110 million euros.
According to Vivera’s commercial director, meat substitutes will account for 30 to 40 percent of the market in 10 to 15 years. “Young people have grown up with these kinds of products. They think differently about meat. Moreover, the meat substitutes are getting better. Growth will therefore accelerate.” Because of population growth and the large share of land use, among other things, a shift from animal to vegetable is also a necessity.