Why the plant-based pizza market is ripe for disruption
The founder of Jack & Bry’s discusses the meat-alternative set to make waves in the pizza industry
The “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme encouraged everyone to flock to the high street in pursuit of a cheap meal, be it a burger and fries or the universally loved pizza.
But if you’re vegan, or even if you just don’t feel like having conventional meat on your cheese-and-tomato base, you’re in a bit of trouble. Because let’s be honest: plant-based pizza ingredients are not what they could be. There’s pineapple — centrepiece of the famous Hawaiian pizza. There are veggies. There’s cherry tomato, falafel. And then there’s only a handful of meat-free meat ingredients around, such as plant-based pepperoni and hot dog slices. It’s, well, underwhelming. And yet pizza is as popular as ever — in the UK and in the US.
It’s time for something new
The Coronavirus crisis has motivated all of us to try new things. For some people, that’s arts and crafts or gardening or crazy home workouts. For others, it’s more to do with how we eat. The pandemic has underlined the link between food and health, but it’s also disrupted our usual habits, giving us all the chance to step back, take a deep breath, and have a good look at how we usually do things.
Plant-based eating was already getting increasingly popular before the pandemic. That trend is now accelerating. In fact, according to one report released only this week, 25 percent of Brits aged between 21 and 30 say they now find a vegan diet “more appealing”. Another survey, by the Vegan Society, showed that 1 in 5 people in the UK had cut down on meat meals. A spokesperson said that Brits were seeing “brilliant vegan alternatives as the new normal”. But still, the much-beloved pizza is bereft of great-tasting plant-based ingredient options.
Vegan, vegetarians and flexitarians, as well as curious carnivores, are crying out for more choice. And necessity is the mother of invention. With the plant-based pizza ingredient market as it currently is, and with pizza proving as popular as ever, innovators should be rolling up their sleeves and thinking of ways to put a delicious twist on classic pizzas or offer something completely new.
The power of jackfruit
Soya, wheat and pea powder-based products are the familiar choice for vegan pizza-lovers who want something like meat but isn’t meat. Jack & Bry have created a proprietary process that allows them to unlock the juicy, flavourful and endlessly adaptable properties of Jackfruit, using its flesh to make it an authentically ‘meaty’ whole food alternative to overly processed competitors. It also happens to be low-calorie and a source of fibre. And though it has been used for centuries in some parts of the world, it’s only recently that we’ve rediscovered it and been unable to unlock its flavour-hugging qualities.
It’s worth remembering that the addition of a topping was the innovation that made pizza what it is today. When the first tomatoes were imported into Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, many Europeans thought that they were poisonous. And then people in Naples started to add tomato to flatbread and the pizza was born. Hundreds of years later, the descendant of that great Neapolitan innovation is in need of innovation of its own. Delicious, nutritious, plant-based options are the order of the day.
So this is a call to arms to foodie innovators to do what they do best and create the kind of products that consumers actually want. The market is ripe for disruption and we want to offer innovators, ingredients with taste. The future is vegan.
Words by Bryony Tinn-Disbury, founder and CEO of Jack & Bry’s