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/ Source: Today
By Francesca Gariano

Ikea has announced plans to serve a new variation of their iconic Swedish meatball in store restaurants around the world.

The furniture retailer announced in a press release on Thursday that they’re working on "the development of a new meatball that looks and tastes like meat but is made from plant based alternative proteins." This new type of meatball will add a sustainable menu option alongside the chain's vegetarian-friendly offerings.

Ikea revealed they are working with top suppliers and hope to conduct tests and tastings of the plant-based meatballs as early as next year.

The announcement comes just a few days after Burger King announced their plans to roll out their Impossible Whopper nationwide after their test in St. Louis last month reportedly went well. Other restaurant chains, including Del Taco, White Castle and Carl's Jr. have also debuted vegetarian options in the past year, offering plant-based alternatives for diners.

“It is a really exciting industry!” Michael La Cour, managing director at Ikea Food Services AB said in the press release. “Looking at the quality of the products that we have been tasting I am looking forward to serving a delicious plant-based meatball made from alternative protein at IKEA. I hope that the many meatball lovers out there will like it as well.”

Ikea has been serving its staple meatballs for 35 years and currently offers veggie balls and veggie dogs, as well as other beefless options, such as salmon, chicken and cod balls. The retailer also recently launched a vegan strawberry soft serve dessert in its European store restaurants and plans to continue expanding their restaurant menus globally throughout the rest of the year.

“We know that the IKEA meatballs are loved by the many people and for years the meatballs have been the most popular dish in our restaurants,” said La Cour. “We see a growing demand from our customers to have access to more sustainable food options and we want to meet that need. Our ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable, without compromising on taste and texture.”

In Ikea’s sustainability report released at the end of March, the retailer detailed its plans to make sustainable living “more inspiring and affordable.” In addition to the introduction of new plant-based foods, the retailer plans to phase out single-use plastic products by 2020, develop new products to reduce water use and switch to using all renewable and recyclable resources by 2030.