THE launch of a plant-based product as ‘lamb’ in the United States is unacceptable, according to Nationals Senator Susan McDonald.
Start-up company Black Sheep Foods is this week launching a ground ‘lamb’ product for the first time in the United States — Australia’s main heavy lamb market.
The company is launching the product through the San Francisco restaurant chain Souvla this week, as part of its initial focus on the US market, but it is already working on getting its products into other markets in the United Kingdom and the European Union, BSF chief of staff Alice Wistar said.
The Black Sheep Foods vegan ‘lamb’ is made from pea protein and other flavour compounds. It will be a fifth protein option beside real lamb, pork, chicken, and roasted white sweet potato in the Souvla restaurants, sold as bite-sized pieces or in sandwiches and salads.
“So far the customer reaction has been exceedingly positive considering the lack of other, similar products on the market.
“We are currently distributing a ground lamb product as cubes, and in the future will do a ground, burger, sausage, and potentially meatball form,” Ms Wistar said.
“We think the vegan lamb market will be grouped into the protein market in general, which is estimated to be worth $3 trillion by 2050 considering the rising population worldwide and the interest in alternative proteins.”
Black Sheep Foods promotes its products to customers with catchy livestock-orientated phrases such ‘Stand out from the herd’ and ‘Raise the Baa’, quoting the amount of water saved “for each pound of Black Sheep Lamb eaten instead of a lamb equivalent”, the acres of land saved each time a BSF product is chosen and the reduction in carbon emissions “every time you enjoy our plant-based lamb.” The company claims it is expert at “recreating the most delicious heritage breed and wild meats — ones you won’t find anywhere else.”
Consumers are being mislead with plant-based protein labelling
Senator McDonald said not only is the BSF product promotion outrageous for all food producers keen to see transparency in marketing, claims and labelling, “but as a consumer I am furious.”
“Because the more often we give the potential for consumers to eat something that they have not intended to eat, then we are inciting consumers.
“We have so much consumer legislation to prevent consumers from exactly this kind of misleading conduct,” she said.
“It makes me so angry, because at least on a supermarket shelf I might have half a chance of picking up that this is not what I think it is, but in a restaurant, I’m out with friends, I’ve seen something that has sheep in the name, it says ‘Baa’ ….
“It is entirely reasonable for me to think that that is a product that comes from a sheep, but it’s not, it has been made form a product that has gone through significant manufacturing processes,” she said.
“That is not what I choose to eat and it is not what I want my children to eat and I think consumers are going to start waking up to how they are being misled and how they are being failed by their governments and being tricked.”
Senator McDonald said there is clear legislation for real estate agents, marketing claims and consumer law, and yet these things are “slipping through the cracks.”