The most common plant-based meat alternatives on-shelf range from vegan sausages to veggie burgers, chicken-free ‘pieces’ and alt mince.
Barcelona-based Heura plays in this space. The plant-based start-up sells alternatives to nuggets, meatballs, sausages, and burgers into 22 countries worldwide.
However a collaboration between Heura and plant-based influencers BOSH! has the start-up venturing into new territory. “For the first time, we are not following the rule of [targeting] the ‘most sold’ products on the market,” Heura co-founder Bernat Añaños told journalists at a press event in London.
“Nobody is making chorizo burgers.”
The chorizo burger, which is based on soy protein and Heura’s innovative fat analogue technology – which transforms extra virgin olive oil into a solid fat – aligns with the start-up’s values of producing healthy, tasty products with short ingredients lists for the mass public, we were told
One of, if not the healthiest, on the market
Heura and BOSH! developed the recipe in partnership. Producing a healthy, sustainable chorizo burger alternative that would appeal to multiple country populations was no mean feat, suggested the co-founder.
The result has ‘lot of flavour’, while at the same time is ‘not too spicy’. “We had to keep in mind that this product will be sold in different markets…and some countries don’t like spices,” Añaños told the media present.
The product joins Heura’s range of chicken, beef, and pork alternative products, made with either soy or pea protein.
“We started with chicken, because we wanted to go with the product that has the most impact to animal life. As chickens are smaller, [the poultry industry] impacts more animal lives in the industry,” explained the co-founder.
“But now we have beef and pork, and will be moving into new categories very soon.”
No matter the product, Heura assured us its meat substitutes – or ‘meat successors’ – are amongst the healthiest on the market.
“When we say ‘successors’, that means it has to be more sustainable, and it has to be much healthier.
“We have a growth mindset. Now we are one of the healthiest, if not the healthiest. But we will be much healthier in one year’s [time]…because we are developing things that no one has developed.”
Heura spreads like ivy
So far, Heura’s plan to ‘transform the meat industry’ is moving in the right direction. This month, the company is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and in that time it has significantly altered Spain’s plant-based landscape, we were told.
“In Spain, five years ago, very few people were eating plant-based meat. But now the percentage of households [doing so is moving] very fast.
“As we put this very healthy, very delicious thing in supermarkets and restaurants, the growth of the market has increased by 2.5%, just [thanks to] Heura products. Heura products are the ones increasing the category.”
This market and category growth is what the start-up envisioned from the beginning. It’s all in the name, Añaños explained.
So why ‘Heura’? “We wanted a name that sounded Mediterranean, and I wanted a name – as a ‘comms’ guy – that [sent a] message of positivity.” Heura sends that loud and clear with the ‘smiley face’ incorporated into its text, the co-founder suggested.
Further, the word ‘heura’ has another meaning: ivy. The green climbing plant ‘expands very quickly’, said the co-founder. “It turns grey areas green very fast, and it’s difficult to control.
“From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to…create a movement…”
From Ocado to beyond
The Heura and BOSH! collaborative chorizo burger is rolling out into UK online grocery retailer Ocado. For Heura, the launch represents its willingness to stay within the UK market.
Yes, there is a lot of competition within the UK plant-based meat market, but “I think we have space here…and not just with one product”, said Añaños.
Moving forward, Heura wants to become a ‘European champion’ in the plant-based space.
“We want to push more to use less saturated fat and use more olive oil.”
And the start-up wants to develop more products. It may be that in the future, they will not all mimic meat, the co-founder suggested.
“Now, we are going to mimic [meat], but make it healthier and more sustainable. But we can get better, we can do better products [that don’t mimic meat], said the crystal-gazing Añaños.
“And we will have to create new names to explain what it is.”