The company said its first plant-based item will be a meat-free burger that will sit in the chiller counter. Unlike ‘many similar offerings’ already on the market, Danish Crown said the burger would not be made of imported soy. It will instead utilise peas and beets.
Finn Klostermann, CEO of Danish Crown Beef, said that a plant-based burger will be integrated into its range ‘before the end of the year’.
Danish Crown’s beef unit already offers a number of hybrid products, combining minced beef and root vegetables. And the company said that it also plans to continue to grow this aspect of the business.
Responding to the plant-based ‘megatrend’
Klostermann said the launch came in response to the ‘megatrend’ that has seen the market shift towards plant-based options as Danish consumers opt for ‘less but better’ meat.
“If we do not recognize the megatrend that consumers [are] eating less but better meat, we will end up standing in the parking lot outside the swimming pool unable to come in because it is already full,” explained Klostermann.
Danish Crown's analysis shows that the plant-based market is growing and that there is ‘money to be made’ in this area.
According to a recent report from the Nordic Council of Ministers, demand for plant-based food is being driven by millennials. An Ernst & Young survey from 2015 shows that 24% of the combined Nordic population - Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland- want to reduce their meat consumption.
However, Danish Crown also stressed that meat remains its core product. Klostermann suggested that the sale of plant-based products can support the sale of the ‘good Danish beef’.
“When some customers want to eat a little less meat, then we also need to be able to deliver it. And we can, for example, have a family with different preferences and attitudes. There we can meet the needs of the whole family where in the same product range you can choose plant based, hybrid and pure meat products.”
‘More sustainable than soy’
Danish Crown acknowledged that the meat-free space is increasingly crowded. In order to win consumers over, it has focused on developing a fresh product that is free from additives and e-numbers.
It also plans to differentiate itself by steering clear of one of the most common ingredients in alternative protein: soy.
“We should not make a product that is similar to existing ones on the market. Our products must be made from, for example, peas or beets,” Klostermann revealed.
“Soy products produced on the other side of the globe and imported [to Denmark] are not sustainable,” he added, insisting that Danish Crown’s products will be locally sourced.
‘It isn’t meat’
Danish Crown also ruled out developing a so-called meat analogue product that aims to mimic the taste, texture and mouthfeel of meat.
Klostermann said this approach ‘makes no sense’. “Meat is meat and plants are plants. It should not look like meat, because it is not. But it must still be delicious and taste good.”