Will vegan foie gras and faux gras take over at Christmas?

In a context of rising prices for foie gras as the end of year festivities approach, vegan alternatives to the famous French gourmet dish are multiplying. Brands play the most advantageous price card to seduce without just looking for animal welfare.

“Hyper realistic” alternatives to foie gras

In Spain, the Hello Plant Foods brand is proud of its latest novelty. This specialist in plant-based meat alternatives, best known for his hamburger steak made with just ten ingredients, is proud to have developed the first vegan foie gras available from caterers. Based on cashew nuts, coconut oil, lentil flour, Armagnac and beetroot extract, this foie gras took a year of development at the Spanish brand to perfect its recipe called Hello Fuah!, which she praises as “hyper realistic” . Consumers will be able to form their opinion since the store launch took place in early December, following the announcement made by the brand through its Instagram account.

Neslé is also entering this market

The novelty arrives a few days after the arrival in force of the revenue of a giant in the food industry, Nestlé. Through its Garden Gourmet brand, the multinational is snapping up the vegan foie gras market with a product already available in Spain and Switzerland, sold for CHF 7.95 per 180g, or around 8 euros. While the production of the famous refined dish is banned in several countries such as Denmark, the United Kingdom or Australia, food brands are multiplying new products in an attempt to seduce consumers with their imitation of foie gras. As King Charles III banned the famous French dish from British royal tables, research is ongoing to provide better vegan recipes that can truly replace foie gras without creating frustration. For Garden Gourmet’s “fat route”, it was a German laboratory that found the composition, based on miso, yeast, grilled sesame and truffle.

Gaia’s fake fat is 10 years old

At the last International Innovation Fair, which brought together 265,000 agri-food professionals from around the world in Paris Nord-Villepinte, the vegetable offer, which covered a quarter of food innovations, presented vegan recipes for tuna and chicken foie gras without animal protein. In the start-up corner, the French company Aberyne was salivating over its vegetable composition by presenting it as the “first high-quality plant-based foie gras”, to be consumed cold or hot in a frying pan. And for these end-of-year celebrations, even Picard got in on the act! The chain of frozen food stores offers a “delight of cashew nuts, mushrooms”, at 5.99 euros for a 220g box, as part of a complete vegetable-only menu.

The distributor did not call her recipe “fake fat”. That’s the name used by one of the department’s precursor brands, based on water, coconut oil, potato starch, sunflower protein, tomato pulp and champagne according to the labeling listed by the Open Food Facts database: the Brussels company Gaia launched its “fake fat” ten years ago.

After the taste and animal welfare argument, the price

The story of vegan foie gras is not new. But, in a context of changing eating habits, with a quarter of French people limiting meat consumption (FranceAgriMer), the proliferation of “false foie gras” comes at a time when the price of the original product is twice as expensive, end of year celebrations are approaching. The interprofession of web palms with foie gras (Cifog) had warned last March that prices were going to rise: food to feed ducks and geese is more expensive (+22% in one year, at the end of March 2022) while producers also had to invest in adapting their buildings and equipment to contain the avian flu epidemic. This historic health crisis led to the disappearance of 17.3 million birds in France alone, including 3.8 million ducks for the foie gras industry. In Spain, the Hello Plant Foods brand does not hesitate to attract new consumers with a price argument. She indicates that her Hello Fuah! it’s 50% cheaper than regular foie gras.

And the success of vegan foie gras this weekend? In a year, it’s another type of fake foie gras that can be tested on the New Year’s table: a synthetic foie gras, developed under a microscope by the French startup Gourmey, which plans to set up a 4,300 m3 workshop in the Paris region by 2024. It remains to be seen at what price will this product be sold…

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