First Vuna salad was added to the menu, now Vrimp is on there too as the world’s biggest food company capitalises on the growth of vegan and vegetarian diets with a new faux-seafood product.
Nestlé describes Vrimp, made out of seaweed and peas, as an exciting innovation, with the alt-seafood having the same “authentic texture and flavour of succulent shrimps”.
The company has even managed to mimic the distinctive shape using special moulds, meaning they can replace the real thing in a salad or poké bowl. The orange sweep of colour on the body has been replicated using paprika and carrot.
Vrimp is one of a raft of plant-based foods being launched by the Swiss company. It has also developed an egg substitue vEGGie. The liquid, which is made with soy protein, is a versatile ingredient for cooks, it says, and can be scrambled “like real eggs”. It is expected to go on sale in Swiss supermarkets this year.
Nestlé is keen not to miss out on sales to the growing number of people who are cutting their intake of animal products or giving them up altogether. It has already launched vegan versions of some of its high-profile brands, including its famous KitKat.
Last year Nestlé started experimenting with plant-based fish – it already sells plant-based burgers and sausages – with the launch of its tuna alternative Vuna, although it is yet to go on sale in the UK. Vrimp’s arrival is also likely to be some time off due to its early stage of development. However, Nestlé recently threw down the gauntlet to Oatly with the launch of its pea-milk brand Wunda.
Mark Schneider, the Nestlé chief executive, said more people were embracing plant-based foods as they sought to cut down their meat intake, but also because products tasted better as manufacturers refined their recipes.
“As always, supply and demand go hand in hand,” he said. “I think what you’re seeing over the last several years is that for the first time the analogues are so good. The taste has improved so much that consumers don’t have to give up much to go there, and I think that makes adoption so much easier.”
The rise of plant-based foods has been described as an “inexorable” trend by the food group Unilever. Analysts at the data firm Euromonitor said the number of people worldwide trying to limit their animal product consumptionhad reached close to one in four.
“While the number of vegan or vegetarian consumers is small globally, the number of people who are trying to limit their animal product consumption is much more significant,” said the Euromonitor analyst Tom Rees. “It is these flexitarian consumers who have been driving the shift from animal towards plant.”
On Wednesday, Cadbury launched a vegan version of its classic Dairy Milk bar, made with almond paste. Cadbury Plant Bar will go on sale in the UK next month.