Canadian butcher chain Meridian Farm Market now offers the vegan Beyond Burger made by California-based food company Beyond Meat at several of its locations throughout British Columbia. The shops customers are increasingly interested in sustainable plant-based options, according to CEO and president Josh Penner.
The decision follows the release of Canada’s new food guide, which recommends eating less meat and dairy in favor of whole, plant-based food. The butcher chain first began selling the Beyond Burger when it became available last summer, Penner told the Daily Hive. Some locations also sell fresh fruit and veggies.
“We’re just about selling great food and it’s not just that we sell products that are appealing to taste, but also appealing to people’s values and we have customers telling us the things that they want and we’re always listening,” said Penner.
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It’s not the first time Meridian Farm Market has sold vegan meat, but Penner believes that the Beyond Burger, which he calls “shockingly similar” to a beef patty, appeals to meat-eaters. “It makes it open and available to a new audience that maybe wasn’t as interested in vegan or vegetarian options before,” he said.
Penner also thinks it’s “entirely possible” that the meat industry could change in the future as the demand for vegan food grows and new options that rival the real thing come to market. “I think we’re going to see a lot more opportunity and offerings available for consumers,” Penner said.
The Beyond Burger has a track record of appealing to meat-eaters. According to Beyond Meat, 70 percent of the burger’s buyers are not vegan and in some grocery stores, it’s sold next to packaged meat. According to Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown, “meat reducers” are the brand’s target consumer.
The burger has been immensely popular in Canada since launching in A&W restaurants last July, prompting nationwide shortages. In order to fuel the rising demand for plant-based protein, the Canadian government invested $153 million last October in the nonprofit Protein Industries Canada. The funding will be used to open processing plants for beans and peas – the key ingredient in the Beyond Burger.
Image credit: Herbivorous Butcher