BC's biggest butcher shop chain jumps into plant-based meat offerings

Jan 25 2019, 3:24 pm

The popular butcher shop chain Meridian Farm Market is now sinking its teeth into plant-based protein foods by selling Beyond Meat Burger patties at its several locations throughout the Lower Mainland.

This comes in the wake of Canada’s new food guide being released recommending Canadians eat less dairy and meat in favour of more vegetables, fruits and water, and a variety of plant-based proteins, like beans and tofu. There’s also an emphasis on cooking more at home.

Meridian Farm Market CEO and President Josh Penner tells Daily Hive his stores began selling the Beyond Meat products as soon as they became available last summer, while also selling fresh fruits and veggies at a few locations.

Image courtesy: Josh Penner, Meridian Farm Market

Penner insists that selling plant-based protein options isn’t about about veganism, vegetarianism, or meatless Mondays, but instead following consumer trends — and demands.

“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.”

His stores have sold chicken and beef alternatives in the past, but Penner feels it’s more exciting now because of the higher quality of the plant-based proteins coming into the marketplace.

With a texture and taste that more closely resembles animal protein, it opens the door for more meat eaters: “It makes it open and available to a new audience that maybe wasn’t as interested in vegan or vegetarian options before,” adding that products such as Beyond Meat Burgers are an “example of what can be created with vegetables.”

As Meridian Farm Market is a specialty retailer, Penner said it’s hard to gauge if plant-based foods are impacting the meat industry, such as big-box stores or chains, but there’s been no difference in his sales.

Image courtesy: Josh Penner, Meridian Farm Market

“Whether it be the Beyond Meat Burger or all of our fresh meats, we’re looking for options for our customers that they’re appealing to their values, so we’re looking for options that are sustainable, they’re ethically raised and grown or produced, and they’re made with quality ingredients — and they are delicious,” Penner said.

It’s “entirely possible” that the meat industry could change in the future, Penner said, as consumer demand for plant-based items with higher protein grows and the marketplace shifts.

He’s heard of other meat companies getting ready to launch new products, “so I think we’re going to see a lot more opportunity and offerings available for consumers.”

And now the ‘juicy’ question for Penner: How he likes his Beyond Meat Burger prepared.  While he’s not a vegetarian or vegan, the patty is “shockingly similar” to meat, Penner says, and he likes it “grilled, I like it sort of Chicago style, little crispy on the outside and even just slightly rare, medium-rare, on the inside.”

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