Burger King began launching meat-free burgers across Europe on Tuesday, one of the biggest ever launches and Unilever’s first major restaurant deal for plant-based meatpies, foreign media reported. The burger, called Rebel Whoper, is now available in more than 2,500 Burger King stores in 25 european countries.
The burger’s signature meat loathing is made by Dutch-based Vegetarian Butcher. It is reported that the company that makes artificial meat products was acquired by Unilever at the end of 2018.
It is understood the restaurant chain has been testing the type of product and selecting suppliers to meet growing global demand for meat substitutes. Earlier this year, Burger King launched Rebel Whoper and Rebel Chicken King in Sweden, and in the US a Big Mac burger made from Impossible Foods meatloaf. Meanwhile, rival McDonald’s chose Nestle Inc. and Beyond Meat Inc. to sell meat-free burgers in Germany and Canada.
Burger King’s deal in Europe is a trick for Unilever, which has added more plant-based products such as Hellmann’s egg-free mayonnaise, dairy-free Magnum, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Burger King launched Rebel Burger in Sweden in partnership with Dutch producer Vivera. David Shear, president of Burger King and Popeyes EMEA, said Vegetarian Butcher was their best potential partner in promoting meat-free burgers in Europe. He added that launching a product of this size is not easy, “and we can do it because we have the same expertise to develop and scale up effectively.” “
Founded in 2007 by Jaap Korteweg, a ninth-generation meat farmer, Vegetarian Butcher is now available in more than 4,000 stores in 17 countries. Hugo Verkuil, the company’s chief executive, said Unilever’s acquisition had enhanced their ability to take on bigger deals.