We've come to associate Ikea with cheap flat-pack furniture, indestructible blue bags and very tasty meatballs. Every single day, 2 million of those meatballs are consumed across 340 Ikea stores. That's a lot of meat.

If those meatballs were meatless, would they still be as tasty? Ikea has been exploring this very question.

Their innovation lab, Space10, reinvents products with sustainable materials and ingredients. Space10 began exploring different takes on the Ikea meatball three years ago using alternative ingredients like algae and lab-grown meat. But those meatballs were never actually produced.

Now, they're really getting into the alternative protein game with two new real meatball prototypes. Space10 is calling it the Neatball, and one version is made with mealworms. According to Wikipedia, mealworms are "the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a species of darkling beetle." Meatballs made with mashed bugs, anyone? Space10 says they like to eat them served traditional-style with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberry sauce.  

"The Neatball is designed to get people thinking about reducing their meat consumption, using local produce and trying alternative proteins," Space10 wrote in a blog post. If you're not super keen on bug balls, Space10 has you covered. Another version of the Neatball is made with root vegetables, including carrots, parsnips and beets.

If both sound equally unappetizing, no need to run out to your nearest Ikea and stock up on frozen real meat meatballs. The Neatball won't be appearing in stores anytime soon. Space10 is Ikea's test kitchen, which intends to draw attention to food products that could be feasible -- but aren't ready for the prime time mass market quite yet.

With the unveiling of the Neatball, Space10 introduced a few other fast-food concepts featuring unique alternative ingredients. There's a Dogless Hotdog with a spirulina bun; the Bug Burger with  beetroot, parsnip, potatoes and mealworms; and salad constructed entirely from hydroponic-grown microgreens, sprouts and herbs.

Published on: Mar 16, 2018