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Bell Food Group CEO Expects Cultivated Meat Burgers to Hit Swiss Restaurants in 3 Years – vegconomist

Bell Food Group CEO Expects Cultivated Meat Burgers to Hit Swiss Restaurants in 3 Years – vegconomist

Lorenz Wyss, the outgoing CEO of the Swiss meat and convenience food giant Bell Food Group foresees that cultivated burgers will be available in Switzerland in three years.

In an interview published on Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Wyss predicts that the products will be available first in restaurants rather than in supermarkets; but the burgers could initially contain only cultivated fat. “It is possible that at the beginning you will only cultivate individual ingredients for addition, such as fat,” he said.

Investing in cultivated meat

Bell Food Group, a leading meat processor selling meat, poultry, charcuterie, seafood, and convenience products, invested €2 million in the Dutch cultivated meat company Mosa Meat in 2018. At the time, the company announced that it would offer cultivated burgers for 10 francs by 2021. That never happened, but the Swiss group expanded its stake in Mosa Meat by investing a further €5 million in 2023 to bring cultivated meat to market in Europe. 

© Mosa Meat

Wyss, who will step down at the end of June after 13 years in the role, noted that once the technology works, cultivated meat will complement traditional meat production. “We have to be part of it,” he added.

Regarding Italy’s ban on cultivated meat and other cell-based foods, the CEO made his position clear by stating that the government’s role is to educate and inform. Provided with clear labeling, people can decide what is “what is right and what is wrong,” he said.

Expanding beyond meat

Bell Food Group has 13,000 employees and an annual revenue of over €3.5 billion. Reportedly, half of its revenues come from the Coop Group. Under Wyss, the company acquired other companies to expand beyond meat: Hilcona, which supplies ready meals and sandwiches; Eisberg convenience produce and salads; and Hügli, soups and spices. 

A plant-based filet with applesauce
© Green Mountain

Bell also owns the plant-based meat brand Green Mountain, which offers an extensive range of alternatives, from burgers and steaks to deli slices and spiced chunks. However, according to Wyss, plant-based meat still faces challenges in reaching the mass market due to its taste, clean label concerns, and high price. “But the industry is working hard on it, including Bell,” he said in the interview.

Meat consumption per capita

In Switzerland, many people are embracing vegetarian or vegan diets. Swissveg reported in 2022 that 5% of the Swiss population aged 14 and over don’t eat meat, and the trend continues. The association said the awareness of the benefits of reducing meat consumption was driving the trend.

The CEO of Bell Food Group agrees that meat consumption per capita is declining and is expected to continue declining. “The change is noticeable, but not as strong as some people think or perhaps wish,” he said. The total amount of meat sold is still increasing because the population is growing. As the population grows rapidly, the overall meat consumption will also rise, he argues.

“Personally, I really like eating meat, and that won’t change. I fire up the gas grill every other day, regardless of the weather. And if not, I prefer eggplant, broccoli or cauliflower, which are great to prepare. Spaghetti with pesto is also a real alternative,” Wyss told NZZ.

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