Vegan ‘Ready-to-Eat’ Foods Growing in Northern Europe
Nordic companies Rebl Eats and Mycorena to create new partnerships for market expansion
The retail sales of meat substitutes increased by an astonishing 121 per cent in the European Union in nine years, reaching almost 1,4 billion euros in 2019, with further growth expected. The market pales compared to the meat market, overshadowing meat substitutes at approximately 135 times its size.
Meanwhile, food delivery and meal kit tech companies spurred a rapid increase in takeaway food and demand for convenience, further propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent years have spiked the demand for convenient, tasty, healthy meals. The availability of such products with great variations in cuisine and flavour is an important factor for the segment’s growth. The global ready meals market is expected to reach over 213 billion dollars in 2026, with Western Europe remaining the biggest market.
The number one driving force in food retail is ‘food-to-go’ or ‘ready-to-eat’ products, which in Finland has resulted in an unusually high year-over-year market growth of 16%, constituting a new market of 146 million euros. This alone makes up roughly half of the total food retail market growth and has consequently led to a surge in more premium products and the market shifting from restaurants to retail in the wake of takeaway culture.
As the market expands and over half of all Europeans seek alternatives to meat, Rebl and Mycorena are teaming up to provide easy meat substitutes.
Rebl is an impact start-up, creating plant-based takeaways for supermarkets and delivery apps. The approach is simple yet unique: no part of the food is processed. With no preservatives, it has been made scalable in 20 cities today. The first products were ready-meals, just accidentally vegan. Now, they have launched coffee shop products and Promyc® sandwiches. No meat, no dairy, no big deal.
In its first year, Rebl sold 200,000 meals in 150 supermarkets in Finland and Sweden. Their concept of making vegan food taste great and fresh, using their crazy cooking skills and quick deliveries to your neighbourhood store, proved effective. The Rebls are not without a cause; the vision is to cook a better tomorrow.
Mycorena® was founded in 2017 with a vision of providing a next-generation food ingredient. At the headquarter MIND (Mycorena Innovation and Development centre), they provide a sustainable mycoprotein solution with the potential to disrupt the entire food industry.
The nutritious and versatile products offer companies the opportunity to diversify their product range with highly sustainable options. The facilities of MIND have recently expanded to become Europe’s largest demo production facility currently in full operation.
To expand the business further, a new production site is currently under construction in Falkenberg, where the goal is to produce the unique Promyc® protein on a large scale and enable global expansion. The Promyc Production Plant, known as 3P, will be Scandinavia’s first of its kind for large-scale manufacturing of mycoprotein.
In the recent collaboration, Rebl Eat’s product developer and chefs have made ready-to-eat products using Promyc® as the key ingredient, providing an exciting new addition to the next generation of food. Promyc® is Mycorena’s flagship product, a sustainable and natural fungi-based ingredient rich in fibre and protein, making it a prime ingredient for producing vegan food products. Its meat-like texture and neutral taste make it an incredibly versatile ingredient suitable for a wide range of products. It provides great possibilities to meet the growing demand for alternative protein sources.
The products launched by Rebl Eats and co-branded with Promyc®, resembling the ‘’intel-inside’’ model, have already been met with great response from consumers after an exclusive launch in 15 selected stores in Helsinki, Finland. With an average rotation of 16 products per store and week, compared to the median of 12, it has become a best-seller amongst Rebl’s coffee shop products. Out of 106 alternative protein products in Swedish supermarkets today, about 2/3 sell only four on average per week, while the top sellers sell 20. To reach a top seller position it typically takes a year, a position which Rebl and Mycorena excitedly approach in only the second month since launch.
In the next steps for the Rebl Eats and Mycorena collaboration, the products will be introduced to the Swedish market, followed by the rest of the Nordics and continental Europe. Also joining the journey are early retail partners; first up is Carrefour, who organised their first plant-based competition earlier this year in which more than 250 start-ups from 50 countries entered. Amongst the ten winners chosen by the jury were Rebl Eats.
We have seen meat alternatives for quite some time back home. Finland saw a nationwide hype among the first ones in Europe already 5+ years ago. The hype was based on new users, but because the taste was good rather than great, users did not return. The small country quickly ran out of new users, so we also saw the downfall first.says Martti Paatela, co-founder of Rebl Eats
Keeping those users is the key problem to solve if we want a sustainable food future. To win the battle of taste, Rebl cooks full end-user products such as meals and sandwiches with meat alternatives.
Once you take control of the full product, instead of giving users the new protein, you control the taste. And in terms of new chicken alternatives to cook with, Promyc® has been the best we have seen so far.”continues Martti
The growing market of the ready meal segment is something we have been following for quite some time. We have made trials internally and with a few companies to see the potential of using Promyc® for such dishes, especially since they have a relatively short shelf-life. To our surprise, Promyc® was performing so well that we got super excited to take our initiative to the real market.says Ebba Fröling, COO of Mycorena.
We are amazed by the interest we got from our market verification with Rebl Eats products. For sure, the segment is here to grow, and we believe, together with Rebl Eats, we will make a healthy and sustainable impact in the vegan ready meal segment.