IKEA Promotes Sustainable Food As Plant-Based Diets Rise

Last year, Around 520 Million Visitors Experienced IKEA Food
Plant-Based Food Important Ingredient to Support the Transition to Net-Zero and IKEA has Responsibility to Inspire, says Ingka Group CEO Jesper Brodin

As the world celebrates Veganuary, a month-long challenge held every January to embrace veganism, consumer interest in following a plant-based diet continues to grow.

While the plant-based alternative meat marBizClikket cools, especially in the US with volume sales decreasing 21% in the year ending July 2023 thanks largely to inflationary pressures – consumers in many parts of the world continue to demand healthier, more sustainable food.

The plant-based market in Europe grew by 22% in 2022, according to The Good Food Institute, with Europe also leading the way in flexitarianism (plant-based focus with meat in moderation), with flexitarians making up 30% of Europe’s population

One of the world’s leading airlines, Emirates, recently reported a 40% year-on-year surge in passengers requesting plant-based meals – from 280,000 in 2022 to 450,000 in 2023, with vegan meals growing a massive 74% in its home market of the Middle East. 

In the UK, coffee chain giant Costa is also seeing demand, recently partnering with plant-based food firm BOSH! to roll out a range of vegan-friendly wraps, panninis, and baps. 

For IKEA too, one of the world’s largest food providers, the positive trend of customers choosing plant-based food continues.

IKEA Pledges 50% of Restaurant Main Meals Will be Plant-Based by FY25

IKEA Inspiring More Sustainable Way of Eating

Known for its iconic Swedish meatballs (one billion are sold globally every year), the global furniture retailer introduced the plant-based and veggie-based balls to its restaurants in 2020 as part of its ambition to be a more sustainable business – and appetite has grown. 

The share of sales of the plant ball and veggie ball increased from 14% to 17% in FY22 within the HUVUDROLL range and from 24% to 26% in the Swedish Food Market. IKEA also offers a veggie hotdog.

Last year, around 520 million visitors experienced the IKEA food offer in its stores globally, providing the retailer with a big responsibility and opportunity to enable and inspire many more people to make more sustainable choices. 

IKEA has said 50% of main meals offered in its restaurants will be plant-based by FY25, and 80% non-red meat, while 80% of all main meals offered to fulfil the IKEA Balanced Meal norm for healthier food. 

As well as delivering more and wider options, the retailer is making plant-based food more affordable – offering it at the same or lower price than the meat-based alternatives. 

For example, sales of its veggie hot dog almost doubled in FY22 compared to FY19, largely attributed to a substantial price decrease in the German market. 

Among newer plant-based products, the company has launched a veggie ball version of LATTLAGAT ready meals – and a plant-based-based soft ice with chocolate flavour.

“We continue to explore where and how we can remove or replace dairy in our range (without compromising on taste) to further reduce the climate impact of our food ingredients,” IKEA said in its latest Sustainability Report. 

“The climate footprint of plant-based food is often lower compared to animal-based options. A plant-based diet with high nutritional value can also be a healthier choice.”

Share of Plant Ball Sales in IKEA Restaurants Rose from 14% to 17% in FY22

Plant-Based Better for People and Planet

Take the plant ball HUVUDROLL – it has just 4% of the climate footprint of the traditional meatball, without compromising on taste and texture, IKEA claims. 

Recent science says eating less red meat, and more fruit and vegetables, is good for both people and the planet. 

The food system today contributes 25-30% of global greenhouse emissions, and a large part comes from livestock production.

According to a landmark study in 2023, vegan diets can cut greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water pollution by 75% compared to meat- and dairy-rich diets. A further study found that substituting just 50% of our meat and dairy intake with plant-based alternatives could halt deforestation, reduce agricultural and land-use emissions by 31%, and double climate benefits.

“Plant-based food, and food in general, is one important ingredient to support the transition to net-zero,” says Jesper Brodin, CEO Ingka Group. “By making more sustainable options available for the many people, we hope to inspire and enable them to take the step and test a veggie hot dog, instead of maybe choosing a meat-based meal. Within IKEA we believe that sustainable choice should be affordable for the many, not a luxury for the few”, says 

A plant-based diet with high nutritional value can also be a healthier choice. 

Numerous studies tout the health benefits of plant-based diets, from reduced risk of chronic diseases to improved heart health, with the latest research revealing people live longer, according to a Harvard study, and may be at 39% lower risk of catching Covid-19.

Jesper Brodin, CEO, Ingka Group

According to Peter van der Poel, Managing Director for IKEA of Sweden and Manager IKEA Range & Supply, a truly sustainable food system must be based on delicious, nutritious and responsibly produced food”.

Which is why IKEA is taking a full value chain approach to contributing to sustainable food systems, from responsible sourcing of materials, reducing food waste along the value chain, circular and more sustainable packaging and using the IKEA reach to “make health and sustainable food options available to as many people as possible”, van de Poel says. 

IKEA uses nutritional profiling to work towards a healthier food offer and continues to reevaluate the entire food offer according to the IKEA Food Nutrition Profiling System.

To encourage adoption, the company is also rolling out a new communication approach for plant-based foods based on scientific insights from the World Resources Institute (WRI) for how to make plant-based foods more appealing. 

And they are accelerating innovation, having launched an IKEA Food innovation accelerator programme with the aim to find and develop healthier and more sustainable raw ingredients.

Among other food-related gains in IKEA’s Sustainability Report:

  • Reached the goal of reducing food waste from preparing meals in IKEA restaurants globally by 50% by the end of 2022 (54%), compared to FY17. By the end of 2022, 91% of all IKEA stores had food waste solutions in place. 
  • Initiated a re-evaluation of the food goals that were launched in FY21, to reveal full transparency of the food offer in all markets including the locally-sourced food range. 

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