MAX in Stockholm, Sweden; burger and chips from MAX
It was reported that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed spoke to representatives of the meat industry, farming associations and Government agencies at 2am, by phone, amid talks aimed at resolving a dispute over beef prices.
The talks are expected to reconvene on Thursday or Monday next.
This morning, economist Jim Power, who is carrying out research on the Irish beef sector for the Irish Farmers’ Association, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland listeners that there are approximately 70,000 specialised beef farmers in Ireland,
These are farmers who are dependent on beef as their primary product.
He said 90 per cent of the beef produced in Ireland is exported by meat processors and that between January 2010 and July 2019, price compression led to the average price of beef sold in Irish shops falling by about 3.4 per cent.
He said this drop in price was largely due to the competition amongst retailers and pointed out that, in 2010, discount stores Aldi and Lidl accounted for around 9.5 per cent of grocery market in Ireland whereas now they account for more than 24 per cent.
Further to this…
Kieran Hennigan writes:
The meat-free revolution is much, much closer than you think.
Last week I travelled to Sweden and met an old friend for a drink who now resides in downtown Stockholm.
As is common place after a couple of pints, we developed a hunger and my eyes fell upon the golden arches of a McDonalds.
As a BigMac connoisseur, I suggested aloud that it was high time for a burger. Taken aback, my acclimatised friend audibly scoffed: “Swedish people don’t eat McDonalds, they eat MAX.”
We left the bar and passed an all but empty McDonalds save for a few foreign tourists. What is MAX? I asked. ‘It’s like McDonalds, but better in every way.’
She was right of course.
We approached the bustling Scandianavian burger franchise. Being unfamiliar with the line-up and the language, I randomly tapped the touch screen menu and was happily munching through my quarter pounder within a few minutes.
The burger was delicious as expected.
Herein is the point, it was absolutely like a normal beef burger. The meaty bounce in the texture was there, the translucent grease oozed out when squeezed, the slight red blood colouring was there in the middle, even little white fatty tendons flexed and snapped as they struggled to hold the patty together.
The taste was like any other greasy, salty fast food burger I’ve ever enjoyed after a few pints. This is of course despite the burger being made of entirely 100% plant-based ingredients.
I put it down to fluke and taste buds dulled by strong Nordic beer, and so I went back the following day to put it to the test in the cold light of day.
I needn’t have bothered: it was a beef burger in everything but origin.
Insatiated, I ordered the ‘no-chicken’ chicken burger. The breaded ‘breast’ fillet with mayonnaise and ice-burg lettuce was as good as any I have tried, and I’ve tried more than my fair share.
Vegetarian burgers are not necessarily a new invention, nor are poor meat substitutes, but the new Swedish MAX burger is a revolution in food technology.
Their latest self-developed range, made from soya extracts enhanced with protein enzymes, only went on sale less than three months ago but already accounts for a whopping 40% of their burger sales.
They expect it to surpass 50% by 2022, and the future of the chain is looking meat free.
MAX’s sales already outperform McDonalds and Burger King in Sweden, and have recently opened branches in Norway, Denmark and the UAE.
The accountants standing over empty shop floors at rival fast food joints are sure to have noticed this trend and if they don’t join them soon, they are sure to be beaten by them.
The bottom line is that this breakthrough in ‘non-meat’ technology can easily fool lifelong meat lovers like myself, and do so at a cheaper price than their meaty alternative.
Add to this the fact that they will inevitably ease the carbon conscious and ethical guilt of consumers and we have the perfect recipe for a fake burger takeover.
This most recent of Scandinavian innovations may not yet threaten the high-end steak market that grass-fed Irish farmers pride themselves on, but sure as the rise of cheap synthetic fabrics devastated the cotton industry leaving cities like Manchester high and dry, the meat industry seems destined to have the feet pulled out from under it.
When the mass market demand for beef declines globally, there will only be room for a small number of niche high-end producers to fulfill local market demands.
Whether we like it or not, this seems inevitable not just in the long term, but potentially within the next decade.
Whilst we fret and worry about losing one beef market due to Brexit, the Swedes are quietly ensuring that the rest of the global beef market is being sent to the slaughter.
And who can blame them?
The steaks are just too high.
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