The firm is backed by both CSIRO and Hungry Jack’s (Australia’s version of Burger King) founder Jack Cowin. v2foods has piloted its first plant-based burger patties in Hungry Jack’s via the Rebel Whopper burger, and has sold half a million burgers in its first four weeks.
In the United States, Rebel Whopper patties are supplied by Impossible Foods, whereas in Europe these are from Unilever.
“We’re starting in Australia first, but ultimately the aim is to focus on expansion across Asia Pacific, and we see big opportunities in this region for other products too, particularly since in will be impossible to meet the meat consumption and population growth demands here using animal meat,” v2foods Founder and CEO Nick Hazell told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“This is going to be a trillion-dollar industry in the next 20 to 25 years, and our main areas of focus will be on countries that are currently importing a lot of meat from Australia and New Zealand and meat consumption is greatest, such as China, Hong Kong, Korea and so on.”
As for the ‘other products’ mentioned, Hazell highlighted packaged products as a main area of focus, especially for commonly-found items such as mincemeat and sausages.
“We know that the majority of meat consumption comes from products bought in supermarkets, and we’re already in discussions in Australia regarding packaged food products,” he said.
“The important thing here is to make sure that we give consumers what they are familiar with and know how to use and cook, such as mince for spaghetti Bolognese and chilli, or sausages, or meat dumplings in China and Hong Kong – this ensures there is no need to relearn how to cook the products, and makes it easier for people to do the right thing for the environment.”
Based on its strong scientific backing from CSIRO, Hazell emphasised that taste and texture are major areas of focus for the firm’s products.
“We’re building on CSIRO’s scientific knowledge, creating great taste by looking at flavour systems, and great texture by using protein chemistry – it’s crucial that the products not taste of plants and must taste like meat,” he said.
“Additionally, the nutritional aspect is also key – we need to ensure consumers are getting the same benefits as when they eat meat, but none of the dis-benefits such as cholesterol and saturated fats.”
Currently v2foods uses legume sources such as soy and fava beans, but Hazell added that they would use ‘whichever legumes are good to grow and taste great as meat’.
‘The products need to taste great, that’s a must – it’s the only way to get meat-eaters to prefer it to meat,” he said.
Sustainability as a key priority
Reducing the environmental footprint that comes from meat consumption is a main priority for v2foods, due to what Hazell describes as an ‘existential crisis’.
“Although we deal in plant-based products, the main aim for v2food is not about going vegan – it’s about reducing meat consumption,” he said.
“Environmental considerations are the most important for us, particularly in this existential crisis resulting from environmental issues.”
Environmental concerns were also cited as the major reason behind younger consumers choosing to go plant-based, but this appears to be less so for elder consumers.
“Many users in the younger demographic see the urgency and switch to plant-based for this reason, but older consumers tend to switch for nutritional and health reasons,” said Hazell.
The company’s main product at present is plant-based beef, but moving forward the firm will be looking at other meats and product formats, particularly for packaged foods.
“We’re now looking at pork as well, and I’ve also shown dumpling manufacturers in Hong Kong how our products can be used to do Asian cuisine while reducing the environmental footprint,” he said.