Nestlé develops plant-based foie gras alternative for European markets
Nestlé-owned plant-based brand Garden Gourmet is launching its Voie Gras product – a vegan alternative to foie gras – into 140 Coop stores in Switzerland and certain points of sale in Spain in ‘very limited’ quantities.
In Switzerland, a 180g block will retail for CHF 7.95 (€8.09) in the chilled section of the supermarket. It can be consumed directly from the jar, pairing with bread, brioche, or canapé crackers, and its can be used in hot or cold, sweet or savoury recipes.
According to Garden Gourmet, the product is part of its ‘strategic expansion’ within plant-based and follows on from recent product launches such as vegan shrimp (Vrimp) and egg (vEGGie) alternatives.
It took just six months for the team at Nestlé’s Research and Development Center in Singen, on the Swiss border, to go from inception to product launch.
Voie Gras is a soy-based product, which when combined with other ingredients including miso paste, truffle oil, and sea salt, helps it achieve an ‘authentic texture, flavour, and appearance’.
From a nutrition perspective, Garden Gourmet’s alternative is considered ‘healthier’ than its conventional counterpart, according to the Nutri-Score algorithm. Whereas for the most part, traditional foie gras achieves a Nutri-Score ‘E’, Voie Gras achieves a Nutri-Score D. While it should be considered an indulgence, suggested Nestlé, ‘its nutritional profile is better than that of traditional foie gras’.
From a price perspective, too, Voie Gras could be considered the more attractive option. “Voie Gras remains well below the usual prices for foie gras,” noted the company.
The launch coincides with the festive season, when animal-based foie gras is most consumed. Garden Gourmet is keen for feedback on consumer perception of its new product, and has included a QR code on the label that will allow them to give their opinion.
An animal-friendly alternative
Foie gras is a well-known French delicacy consumed the world over. Made from the liver of a duck or goose, its method of production is extremely controversial: to fatten birds ahead of slaughter, they are force-fed with more food than they would naturally eat in the wild.
Today, foie gras production is banned in several countries, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the UK – where King Charles recently banned it from being served at royal residences.
Nestlé’s alternative, in comparison, is animal-friendly and will respond to demand for more sustainable foods, suggested the company. According to a study commissioned by animal welfare charity Four Paws, consumption of conventional foie gras, for example, is decreasing: as of 2018/2019, 70% of Swiss people did not consume foie gras, noting growing concern for animal welfare a contributing factor.
Coop is also concerned about the conventional foie gras production method. “For the wellbeing of animals and out of conviction, we have not sold foie gras for 20 years. Voie Gras offers an ideal alternative, and we are delighted to be the only Swiss retailer to be able to offer this product exclusively on our shelves during the Christmas period this year,” said Martin Stutz, Category Manager for Vegetarian and Vegan Alternatives at Coop.
“I am convinced that Voie Gras will be appreciated by our customers.”