Veggie balls – a taste of the future at IKEA Food
Food has been an integral part of the IKEA retail concept since the 1960s. “We have 600 million visitors in our restaurants, bistros and food market every year, worldwide,” says Michael La Cour, Managing Director, IKEA Food Services AB. “Food plays a vital role in our meeting with the customer.” It allows us to interact with our customer and create and share an experience with them. And of course it contributes to the attraction of visiting an IKEA store.
We are committed to being responsible, modern, and forward thinking. And we recognize that the food industry has changed. “Food is not just a way of survival anymore, it’s an experience,” says Michael. Sharing a meal has become increasingly important and valued as a way for us to spend quality time with friends and family. In addition, improved technology and increased awareness of health and wellness mean that people are paying attention to the quality of ingredients and the social responsibility of their food choices more than ever before.
It’s just common sense to be able to offer a vegetarian alternative to the meatball
So what do people think of when they think about IKEA food? Many people associate the IKEA Brand with the beloved meatball, a Swedish classic that we served along with other traditional Swedish dishes from the start. Then, in 1985, we developed our now-famous IKEA meatball recipe, serving it for the first time in the IKEA store in Aubonne, Switzerland. Since then, the meatball has been there for millions of hungry families, still served Swedish-style with mashed potatoes and lingonberries.
Then, some years ago, the idea of a new kind of meatball started to form. Could we take the meat out of meatballs, so even more people could enjoy them – an alternative that would also leave a smaller carbon footprint? We felt that this was something we had to do, so we started to experiment. Today, the result can be found in IKEA restaurants and stores all over the world – it’s the veggie ball.
Veggie balls are packed with chickpeas, green peas, carrots, bell peppers, corn and kale, with fewer calories and less fat. The recipe doesn’t contain gluten, soy, nuts, eggs or lactose.
“It’s about offering more choices,” says Michael. “You should still be able to enjoy your meatballs, but we should also offer you veggie balls, which have a smaller carbon footprint by 30 times. Yes, it’s a different taste experience, but you can be the one to make that choice. Some days you may feel like eating meat, or perhaps, due to your religion or your health, you choose not to eat meat at all. We feel strongly about offering people the ability to make an informed choice. It’s just common sense to be able to offer a vegetarian alternative to the meatball.”
We wanted something that could potentially be just as popular as the classic meatball. In the future, we hope that people will associate the IKEA Brand with the veggie ball, too – that’s how good and tasty it is.