Ikea is working on a new meatless meatball

Ikea is jumping on the plant-based protein trend.

The furniture retailer known for its Swedish meatballs is working on a new version of the food that “looks and tastes like meat but is made from plant based alternative proteins,” it said Thursday. Ultimately, Ikea wants to sell the plant-based meatball at all of its restaurants worldwide.

Demand for plant-based protein alternatives is heating up as consumers seek out healthier diets and more ways to reduce their environmental footprints.

This week has shown just how popular the trend has become, among both consumers and investors.

On Thursday, Beyond Meat, which makes meatless alternatives to beef, pork and poultry, began publicly trading at $46 a share, an 84% increase over its IPO price of $25 — which was already higher than the $19-$21 range the company was targeting last week. Since then, the price has soared. It closed at $65.75– up 163% from its IPO price.

Meanwhile, Impossible Foods, which sells plant-based protein designed to taste and look like meat when cooked to restaurants, is struggling to keep up with increased demand for its product. Earlier this week — soon after Burger King said it plans to roll out an Impossible Whopper nationwide — the company said it was experiencing a shortage because of increased interest.

Ikea said it is running tests and developing prototypes with different potential partners, and hasn’t decided yet which supplier it will work with. The retailer plans to start testing the new product in select markets in February 2020. Currently, Ikea serves local dishes with plant-based protein as an ingredient in some markets.

The new menu item will be the fifth variety of meatball served at Ikea, along with classic, veggie, chicken, and salmon and cod. It should cost about tthe same as the classic meatball.

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