Hungry Jack’s founder beefs up new business

By Ruth Hogan | 03 Oct 2019 View comments

Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin has unveiled plans to beef up the Aussie alternative meat market, partnering with the CSIRO to launch a new start-up; v2food.

National science agency CSIRO’s Main Sequence Ventures and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods, have come together to take a slice of the $6bn dollar alternative meat pie, with former Masterfoods and PepsiCo research director, Nick Hazell, leading the business.

Cowin’s Competitive Foods Australia, the company behind Hungry Jack’s, also contributed seed funding to help launch the start-up, which in the space of just eight months has created a plant-based option that it claims “looks like meat, cooks like meat and tastes like meat”.

“We’ve seen a huge opportunity for plant-based proteins and the category is set to explode. I’ve eaten beef all my life but I’ve tasted the v2food and it tastes as good as beef. Therefore, we can’t wait to take v2food to consumers with some fantastic new products” ​the Hungry Jack’s founder said.

With the help of CSIRO’s research and development resources, Hazell, v2food founder and CEO, set about creating a “version 2” of beef mince in January, using legumes, added fibre and nutrients.

“We’ve been working like crazy to try and take the science and turn it into a product, which is what we’ve done. So we now have beef, which tastes the same or better than beef, that will be at a price which is comparable to beef,” Hazell told Inside Franchise Business sibling publication, Inside FMCG on Tuesday.

“We know that consumers don’t change their eating patterns, we like to eat the same food that our mothers and our grandmothers gave us. To ask people to change their diet is just too big an ask, it’s up to us, as the food designers if you like, to change the food, so that fits in with what people like.”

Hungry Jack’s meat-free initiatives

It’s not the first time Cowin and Hungry Jack’s have weighed into the alternative meat market.

For years, the fast-food chain has offered a Veggie Whopper, and a high-profile decision to roll out a vegan cheeseburger last year demonstrated a firm commitment to the emerging market.

However, Hazell suggests the new v2food roll-out won’t solely target vegan consumers.

“We’re not focusing on the vegan market, even though our product might be vegan. We’re focusing on the meat lover,” he said.

“Our research suggests that more than 80 per cent of people are looking to do something, even if it’s once a week to reduce their meat intake or do something for sustainability. And I think we’re at very much at that tipping point. It’s for everyday people who just want to do the right thing.”

By 2050 the global population is expected to be at around 10 billion and as demand for vegan and alternative meat products increases, more franchise chains are likely to jump on-board. Just last week, the Canadian arm of global giant McDonald’s launched its inaugural plant-based burger after years of requests from fans.

The team at v2 Food are eager to tackle the growing demand for protein in a more sustainable way. The company is working with grain and meat industries to get producers involved in what CSIRO predicts will be a $6bn+ industry in Australia by 2030.

v2food is working with Competitive Foods and Hungry Jacks to begin appearing in restaurants and cafes this year with a leading retail presence expected in early 2020.