Dog-less hot dogs, meat-less meat balls and other fake fare

The debate over whether meat-reducing consumers want imitations continues, but that hasn’t slowed new high-profile product releases.

10 May 2019
burgermeat alternativeplant-basedrestaurantssupermarketsvegan

Today is the big day for Moving Mountains, which has just launched its plant-based version of a hot dog into Unity Diner. After announcing the release last week and debuting it for a handful of media, influencers and plant-based chefs on Wednesday, the company is eager to shout about its achievement – especially as it is touting a world first.

The “mind-blowingly meaty, meatless hot dog” follows in the footsteps of Moving Mountains’ ‘bleeding’ B12 Burger, currently sold everywhere from Harvester to The Alchemist. The company’s founder, Simeon Van der Molen, is hoping the hot dog will be equally successful and is already pursuing a retail launch of the new product.

“Following the resounding success of the UK’s first meatless bleeding burger, our second innovative launch is set to make hot dogs desirable again, giving them a long-deserved revamp,” he said. “Our latest food tech innovation proves that you don’t need a pig to make a dog; we use sunflower seeds to deliver an identical taste and texture, which is a more sustainable food option for our health and the health of the planet.”

Sowing the seeds

When Moving Mountains launched its burger, the company was keen to emphasise that it had created something that was convincingly like the real thing, even down to containing certain B vitamins that are often lacking in a plant-based diet. The messaging around the hot dog is no different.

Sunflower seeds are used as the base to give the product nutritional heft, while carrot and paprika lend it the traditional colour (the latter also imbues a slight smokiness). Onion purports to help give the right texture, while coconut oil is used to replicate the juiciness imbued by fat content.

At £12 a pop it’s not cheap, but at least it’s a sizable affair, coming in at 25cm long and 3cm wide.

Once again, UK-based Moving Mountains has managed to beat its US meat-alternative rivals to the punch – while Beyond Meat does stock its burger in the UK, its sausages have yet to arrive on these shores. Moving Mountains has chosen to focus specifically on developing a frankfurter imitator for hot dogs, but Beyond Meat offers more classic bangers in original and Hot Italian flavours.

Beyond burgers and hot dogs

The Moving Mountains hot dog arrives the same week as Ikea's announcement that it is working on a vegan version of its iconic meatballs that will be indistinguishable from the original. The Swedish furniture giant has previously dabbled in veggie balls and even its own hot dog (rolled out around the world last year), but neither of these attempted to imitate meat. If the meatballs are released as scheduled early in 2020, they will mark a new landmark for Ikea’s food offering.

“We see a growing demand from our customers to have access to more sustainable food options and we want to meet that need,” said Michael La Cour, managing director at IKEA Food Services. “Our ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable without compromising on taste and texture.”

In the retail aisle, not one but two companies have announced bacon alternatives designed to fool meat eaters this month. A British company called This is releasing rashers made predominantly from soy in Holland & Barrett this summer – they’re also currently available in burger chain Patty & Bun alongside This’ chicken goujons.

Meanwhile, Vivera is releasing “100% fat-free” bacon pieces that are suitable for vegans exclusively into a number of Sainsbury’s stores, before a wider rollout internationally over the course of 2019. The Dutch company decided to start its new product in the UK market thanks to the “overwhelmingly positive feedback” in this country for its plant-based steak.

"Especially in the British market we foresee a large demand for our fat-free vegan bacon,” said Gert Jan Gombert, commercial director of Vivera. “Traditionally it is one of the product categories where meat has been difficult to replace. Our product development team has done an outstanding job in making the bacon pieces as tasty as the available regular bacon while reducing the fat level to zero!”

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