Fad or Future

Is there a need for more flexitarian products?

As Brewdog launched its half meat and half plant-based patty to some controversy, is the move actually targeting an underfed market?

11 October 2019

Brewdog has released a new hybrid burger and it’s left a lot of baffled people scratching their heads.

In a nod to the flexitarian crowd, they have created a patty made from 50% plant-based Beyond Meat and 50% sustainable beef. Slapped on top is melted vegan gouda cheese, crispy onion straws and a potato rosti. Not satisfied with pushing the boundaries with what’s between the bun, all this comes sandwiched between matcha tea buns. The new burger is available across its 10 UK sites.

“As we are in the grip of a climate emergency, the more people who eat less meat the better. That is why we have launched this fresh take on flexitarianism,” the company said. “We wanted to make a burger that delivered on flavour and enabled anyone to make a transition to eating less animal-based protein.

"We’ve seen a growing demand for alternative proteins,” it added “and we already stock vegan friendly options in all of our bars, but we wanted to do something for flexitarians – people looking to cut down but not totally stop eating meat.”

The chain also announced that its Dalston site will be the first Brewdog bar to go fully vegan.

More blending to come

Talking of hybrid creations, The Bel Group which is best known for its BabyBel cheese, has announced its taking a new path to produce sustainable food. Targeting the healthy snack market, it’s planning to extend its portfolio beyond cheese and fruit goods by developing hybrid items integrating dairy and plant-based raw materials, which could be rolled out as early as next year.

This could see dairy paired with vegetables or leguminous plants to meet consumer expectations and nutritional needs, it said.

“Food for all has been in Bel’s DNA from the start, thanks to our single-serving portions model, on which our unique product portfolio is based,” said Cécile Béliot, Bel Group executive vice president for strategy, growth drivers and markets. “Our success is built on a determination to make dairy goodness accessible to families all over the world, and our goal today is to go further by inventing new products and offering consumers inclusive and responsible brands.”

The company announced a number of other initiatives like removing artificial flavours and colours in its products by 2021 and achieving carbon-neutral status by 2025, which will include moving to 100% recyclable or biodegradable packaging by 2025.

Having already worked with WWF France, it also plans to promote sustainable dairy farming by issuing guidelines by 2025 for its partner farmers to promote GMO-free feed, pasture grazing and new farming business models.

Over in the US, others are making moves into the blended segment including the Minnesota-based farmer cooperative Live Real Farms, which recently started making 50/50 blends of dairy milk and plant-based beverages from almonds and oats.

So does Sparkie have a hankering for a flexitarian feed?


Sparkie says:

The Brewdog burger feels like someone read through a trends article and tried to pull it all into a single product.

I have done some work on flexitarian products and they seem to be doing well so the 50:50 part of this burger and the vegan cheese works, as long as the cheese is good quality – there are too many bad ones out there. But I’m confused by the tea buns, they just feel unnecessary.

Flexitarian has had its own niche bubbling away in the background for some time. I think the primary thing holding it back is a limited product range, so the more people that get in on this, the bigger it could be. But consumers won’t fully adopt unless there are the ranges to support it full time without it getting stale.

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