IKEA’s Newest Meatball Is Vegan and 3D Printed: Here Are the Details
All die-hard IKEA fans know that behind the affordable and timeless ready-to-assemble furniture, the in-store restaurant is the main attraction. The IKEA cafeteria features several vegan menu staples including a veggie hot dog made with wheat protein, kale, lentils, onions, and wheat protein. And there are always the vegan meatballs! Now, the Swedish multinational company is aiming to bolster its plant-based offerings as IKEA cafeterias prepare to reopen. Most recently, the company introduced 3D-printed meatballs as part of its “Taste the Future” campaign.
IKEA launched an initiative to make all its restaurant menus 50 percent plant-based by 2025, working to promote sustainable food options worldwide. The recruitment campaign also aims to expand its technology and data department as IKEA attempts to innovate its entire company development and production models.
The company is hiring 150 new employees to facilitate a sustainable future for IKEA. The campaign video displays the new machine building the plant-based Swedish meatballs as a voiceover says: “Let’s meet for a job interview over some 3D-printed meatballs. Yes of course they are without meat.”
The 3D-printed Swedish meatballs contain a proprietary blend of potato, onion, apple, oats, and pea protein. IKEA claims that its vegan meat production produces just four percent of the environmental harm that is required in standard meatball production. For now, the new plant-based meatballs have yet to be distributed at IKEA locations, but the sustainability initiative gives consumers reason to expect vegan meatballs in the near future.
“IKEA is at the start of a journey to embrace data and technology to become more affordable, accessible, and sustainable in an omnichannel environment,” Inter IKEA Group CIO Pascal Pauwels said. “Naturally people with imagination will play a big role in that quest. So here we’re looking for people who want to create a better everyday life with us. This campaign is a great way to start the conversation.”
The company’s sustainability commitments extend beyond the restaurant. IKEA pledged to make 80 percent of all packaged foods stocked in its retail category to be plant-based and meat-free. The new menu items and plant-based retail development are only the beginning of IKEA’s sustainability programs. The company intends to become “climate positive” by 2028, working to become reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and phase out plastic packaging completely.
“The 3D-printed meatballs are just one experiment where IKEA is exploring new technologies to bring its vision to life. All to reach more people and create a positive impact on the world,” the company said in a statement.
Current estimates propose that animal agriculture could be responsible for 87 percent of greenhouse gas emissions within the international food sector. As environmental issues become more prevalent, IKEA’s plant-based and sustainable investments will set standards for major corporations across Europe and worldwide.
A New Way to Make Plant-Based Meat
IKEA’s investment in 3D-printed meat alternatives is not a first for the plant-based world. Last year, Chef Marco Pierre White revealed that he will begin selling 3D printed whole cut steak made completely free of animal-based products. The renowned chef announced that he partnered with Redefine Meat that would replicate the complex structures of animal muscles with mushroom-based ingredients, remarking the nearly identical texture of the vegan alternative.
Redefine Meat and IKEA’s 3D printed meat alternatives enter a rapidly growing plant-based market, slated to grow 451 percent by 2030. The new 3D food printing technology aims to cut down the harmful environmental costs. This week, a report from the Good Food Institute claimed that plant-based meat will meet price parity with conventional meat as soon as 2023. The report claims that increased consumer interest, technological advancements, and improved production capacities will lead to the plant-based market eclipsing the conventional meat market.