Meat- and Fish Alternatives

The Latest in Plant-Based Steaks and Why They’re So Crucial Right Now

The consumer behaviour of those (vegans and omnivores alike) who purchase plant-based products has evolved significantly from the curiosity-led impulse buys before the 2023 dip — amid an influx of new, sometimes inferior products on the market — to repeat purchases of quality, evolved products which fit into the day-to-day routine and are now tried and tested by families and cooked at home in their favourite ways.

Last week, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain Tesco reported that the plant-based revolution is entering a second phase, largely driven by more consumers cooking from scratch. The retailer noted that despite the drop in sales last year, sales of meat-free ingredients and whole cuts are now increasing, with plant-based steaks and chicken breasts witnessing a 20% sales uptick over the past three months. Notably, Juicy Marbles’ whole-cuts sold an “unprecedented” 100,000 meat-free steaks in the run-up to Valentine’s Day this year.

Juicy Marbels secures a long term deal for its filet mignon at Waitrose
Image credit: Juicy Marbles FB

In 2022, Future Market Insights predicted the vegan steak market was to grow at a CAGR of 7.3% between 2023 to 2033 to reach a value of nearly $1.13 billion at the end of the forecast period. More recently, Polaris Market Research projected the global vegan steak market to grow with a CAGR of 6.2% through to 2032, reaching a value of around $1.02 billion.

In recent months, we have seen several new launches in the segment, with producers employing the latest production methods to create realistic whole cuts, many with short ingredient lists, to satisfy all demographics of plant-based purchasers. These innovations are crucial to bringing new consumers into the category in line with the trends reported by Tesco, encouraging omnivores to replace animals with plants on their plates – even if this happens just once a week it equates to many animals saved along with the associated benefits to planet and health.

The following are developments including retail expansions and market launches which all took place in the plant-based whole-cut steak segment over the past six months.

Planted launches fermented steak (EU)

Pascal Bieri, co-founder of Swiss plant-based leader Planted, spoke to vegconomist regarding its newly launched fermented steak, unveiled just yesterday. The first product to be developed using the company’s whole-muscle platform, the steak is based on protein, rapeseed oil, bean and rice flours, and microbial cultures, and Planted claims it is the first plant-based steak to use all-natural ingredients and no additives.

Planted fermented steak
© Planted

We wanted to know who is the target consumer for this product. “People who love the taste, bite and experience of red meat and want all the good without the bad. We believe this product is for everybody, no matter if you are only getting started on your animal meat reduction journey or you’re already a pro. With a high protein and fibre content, low amount of saturated fats and essential micronutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron, it caters both to the health-conscious palate as well as true foodies in terms of taste or texture,” Bieri replied.

“We are convinced we will bring new consumers into the category with this whole-cut”

Has the steak been designed to incite curiosity in the meat-eating consumer, for them to purchase as a novelty, or does it offer a real alternative to animal steaks and the potential to displace cows from plates? “Our planted.steak is a true innovation, not only for us but also for the whole category – no other plant-based steak on the market uses zero additives and displays features such as juiciness as well as texture as ours.  It offers a real alternative to animal steak, with no compromise on taste, texture and juiciness. We are convinced we will bring new consumers into the category with this whole-cut, especially the ones who have not had contact with the plant-based category before” he says.

The planted.steak is now available to the foodservice channel across Europe with restaurants in Switzerland, Austria and Germany already rolling it out onto menus. Planted is further scaling up its new production site in Switzerland for prompt retail launches across Europe.

OmniFoods debuts lion’s mane steak (Hong Kong / USA)

Hong Kong-based OmniFoods, which began life as the Asian phenomenon OmniPork and since then has expanded into several categories including the OmniSeafood range, also announced the launch of a vegan steak this week. This product is based on lion’s mane mushroom, and worth noting here is that the Wagamama lion’s mane steak bulgogi dish offered during Veganuary was a phenomenal success and was sold out at most locations.

OmniFoods mushroom steak
© OmniFoods

As part of the new OMNI Garden series, the Lion Mane’s Mushroom Steak will be showcased at this year’s Expo West with plans to roll out thereafter.

CEO David Yeung stated: “We are thrilled to unveil the Lion Mane’s Mushroom Steak at Expo West, and we believe it will become the new generation of fungi innovation and revolutionize the way people perceive plant-based alternatives. The OMNI Garden series is a testament to our commitment to innovation and our mission to create exceptional plant-based products.”

Planteneers & Handtmann’s manufacturing milestone

Earlier this year, Planteneers and Handtmann, both of Germany, announced a manufacturing achievement with its Plant-Based Steak 2.0 development for third-party producers.

Planteneers and Handtmann are joining forces to revolutionize the market with a manufacturing innovation to create marbled and fat-layered steaks.
Image courtesy of Planteneers

Planteneers and Handtmann now enable manufacturers to efficiently produce plant-based meat alternatives with marbled, fine fibrous structures using a new attachment for Handtmann’s filling and portioning systems alongside Planteneers’ fiildMeat and fiildTex solutions. This flexible coextrusion system facilitates the production of customizable plant-based steak and even allows for asymmetrical fat marbling. The method significantly outperforms existing marbled meat alternative production techniques like 3D printing in efficiency, boasting a production capacity of over a ton per hour to satisfy demands from large trade partners.

4. Redefine’s flank steak available to consumers (UK & EU)

Based in Rehovot, Israel, Redefine Meat‘s products are widely available and are gaining international recognition. “New-meat is offered at close to 5,000 locations all over Israel and Europe (The Netherlands, the UK and Germany), including some of the world’s best restaurants, steakhouse chains, and premium butcher shops. Before serving Redefine Meat™, most of these outlets had never offered plant-based meat,” explains the company, which harnesses 3d printing technology for the flank steak product.

Initially focused on high-end food service, over the past few months the 3d printed flank steak has become available for UK and EU consumers to cook at home. This February, the steak was introduced by vegan meal kit service Grubby as part of a Valentine’s Day special and has since become a permanent offering at Grubby. Additionally, the product is now available for purchase through Mighty Plants.

Redefine Flank PLANTSTEAK
Redefine Flank steak, image supplied

Plans are afoot for a supermarket rollout this year. “The biggest barriers to mainstream plant-based meat adoption remain product quality and versatility. With our success in foodservice, we have the ideal mix of product quality and variety to disrupt the retail segment in a big way,” said  Redefine Meat’s CEO and co-founder, Eshchar Ben-Shitrit to Food Ingredients First. “Key to achieving this is having the right retail partners, such as Ocado, Albert Heijn and Crisp, who symbolize premium quality products. Over the next 12 months, we will continue to aggressively execute our go-to-market strategy to get our products directly into the hands of consumers fastest, including more products, a brand-new chilled products range and expansion into new countries.”

In a recent white paper published in Frontiers, Daniel Dikovsky, Redefine Meat’s CTO, describes the company’s novel Plant-Based Tissue Engineering (PBTE) approach to demonstrate how it effectively replicates “the mechanical integrity, texture, and sensory attributes of traditional meat.”

Chunk Foods disrupts Florida steakhouses (USA)

In October of last year, New York-based Chunk Foods reported that following its immense success at Florida steakhouse Charley’s, it was to extend its presence in Central Florida with the addition of its award-winning plant-based steaks at Vito’s Chop House, Fishbones, and a third Charley’s Steak House location.

Chunk Foods Chunk plant-based steak
Supplied by Chunk Foods

The cholesterol-free Chunk steak, made from fermented soy and wheat, has seen exponential success in US foodservice, where the product has been picked up by Monster Foods and Ace Natural, a plant-based foodservice distributor based in New York City.

Furthermore, this January, Chunk secured $7.5 million and announced a strategic partnership with Better Balance Foods to develop co-branded plant-based whole cuts for the Latin American market, which the startup said reflects “ongoing investor confidence” in its vision as well as the potential of plant-based whole cuts.

“Steak houses in the US sell over $14B of steak, and tapping into what was previously an unattainable market marks a tremendous step in the right direction, making plant-based eating accessible and desirable to more Americans,” explained CEO and founder Amos Golan to vegconomist, encapsulating the significance of these developments.

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