Bringing food that’s good for you and the planet

It might seem like a Herculean task for us as individuals to change an energy grid from running on coal or stop the continuous use of fossil-based fuels. But we all can take small steps. Do you know a small tweak in the food we eat can help us and our environment stay healthy and sustainable? With the new food commitments, IKEA intends to do just that and bring more offerings to customers that are nutritious and tasty as always.

About two years ago, when Sharla Halvorson, Health and Sustainability Manager at IKEA, decided to add a larger portion of vegetables and grains to her everyday meals, she didn’t quite think much about it. She just wanted to make healthier food and life choices. Also, turning vegetarian was proving to be more difficult than Sharla thought. So, she started with an easy action by adding available plant-based ingredients such as seasonal vegetables on her plate, often mixing and matching fish and chicken with them. Her guiding mantra was to add more colours on her plate.

And, she has been happy with the choices she made. But a surprise was in store for her. What started essentially as a personal choice for Sharla, resonates with millions of IKEA customers across the world. People want to eat balanced meals and contribute to the environment by cutting the carbon footprint. And, they want IKEA to help.

“We got the feedback from customers all over the world that we need more plant-based options in our range. I think companies have an important role to play in turning consumer thoughts and values into action, by making sustainable options more affordable.”

The customer need led IKEA to launch our new food goals. IKEA has chalked out a plan for the next five years to expand its food range to offer more nutritious and plant-based options. In fact, half of the main meals offered at IKEA restaurants will be plant-based by 2025.

Those looking for meat and seafood options will have plenty of choice. 80 per cent of the main meals offered will be non-red meat. On top of this, healthier plates will also be in focus with 80% of the main meals offered falling into the IKEA Balanced Meal Norm definitions of healthier. The packaged food range will also have a far larger array of plant-based options (as much as 80 per cent).

“We know that around 70 per cent of the climate footprint of our ingredients comes from beef and pork. So, if we want to make a big difference here, we need to focus on plant-based products and on the non-red meat. That’s what the new goals represent and the understanding that that’s where the impact on health and climate comes from.”

The new food goals have been developed over the last year. The IKEA plant ball HUVUDROLL, which was launched in Europe in August 2020, followed by the rest of the world, has seen heart-warming appreciation from customers. Made with yellow pea protein, oats, potatoes, onion and apple, the plant ball looks and tastes like meat but has a climate footprint of only 4 per cent of the classic IKEA meatball.

With its focus on delighting its customers, IKEA will modify to the food range to serve the many – be it, meatball lovers, flexitarians, vegetarians or vegans.

“Food is one of the major contributors to people’s health and well-being. It affects the way we feel. It affects our energy, it can affect our motivation. It’s really an integral part of our healthy and sustainable living. You can’t have healthy living without really incorporating food into it.”

How will IKEA realize these goals?
“These are not sales goals and we will take one step at a time. For us, step one is to have the right products available to our customers. We will be looking at options for the menu in IKEA restaurants that are both more nutritious and delicious. And then, step two is to look at how we communicate the products in a way that inspires our customers. Put these together and we hope to have the IKEA seen as a go to place for families with kids thanks to our great food offer and have the IKEA plant ball seen as just as iconic as the IKEA meatball,” says Sharla.

How does it tie with the IKEA commitment to become climate positive by 2030?
“We aim to inspire a life within the boundaries of the planet, where a balanced diet plays an important role. A sustainable diet is one that is rich in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, and with fewer animal products. This is also a diet that has many health benefits. Importantly, it doesn’t require us to cut out animal products – just eat them less regularly. If everyone did this, it would have a meaningful positive impact on the climate.”

Sharla Halvorson.

How will my food plate look like at IKEA restaurant in 2025?
“From a global perspective, it will be mainly plant-based and non-red meat or seafood offers and looking at components such as vegetables and grains on the main meal plates and ingredients in our packaged food.”

“We will maintain a bit of Swedishness and Swedish inspiration but bring it closer to our customers globally. We want more people to try our offerings and it’s a challenge to please all customers. To be able to meet the different preferences, our food offer will contain both meat and non-meat options,” says Sharla.