Flexitarian BBQ's this summer

The full range of L’Authentique flexitarian sausages including the Green Chorizo

The full range of L’Authentique flexitarian sausages including the Green Chorizo

Let’s be honest, most Kiwis have an appetite for a good sausage. Proof in point - at the recent 2018 Devro Great New Zealand Sausage Competition, New World’s Te Rapa store won first equal for the Supreme Award for their Angus Beef Sausage. With this news, locals flooded the Te Rapa store and BOOM, sales skyrocketed by over 1000% for all their sausages.

However, global awareness of what we are eating is on the rise and people are choosing to eat more mindfully for a number of reasons. Environmental, ethical, health and social factors appear to be driving this trend, and interest in adopting a flexitarian lifestyle is catching on and showing no signs of subsiding.

In response to this change in eating patterns and to keep up with international trends, meat processors are seeing opportunities to respond to consumer demand. In the new ‘Innovation’ category at this year’s sausage competition, there was the first ever flexitarian sausage.

The sausage was a Green Chorizo, a tasty, obviously green morsel that had just the right amounts of pork, spinach, coriander and spices.

Wade Lewis, Director at L’Authentique created the Green Chorizo with Chef Xavier Carmona - “We created this a year ago based on a traditional Mexican recipe that we’ve adopted – the challenge to launch these at retail is ensuring you don’t add a whole lot of chemicals to stabilise it – fresh vegetables have shorter shelf lives. Our challenge is to keep it natural and unprocessed - that’s the L’Authentique rule for making a great sausage”

 “We tested the sausage with consumers at Taste Auckland and Meatstock and people loved it, it was our best-selling sausage at these events” says Wade.

So, what is a flexitarian? It’s a blend of the words ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’ and according to the go-to English Oxford Dictionary, it refers to an individual who occasionally eats meat or fish but otherwise follows a primarily, but not strictly vegetarian diet. Basically, it leaves options open to eat flexibly, which let’s be honest, is great for social occasions.

Eating less meat has entered the public consciousness through social media initiatives such as ‘Meat-Free Monday’. But according to our insights about 89% of Kiwis are still enjoying eating meat several times a week, so theoretically many are already following this movement without realising it. For health reasons many are trying to eat moderate amounts of lean red meat as per the recommendations and understand the health benefits from coinciding this with increasing their vegetable intake.

So, options such as cross-over or hybrid products that incorporate both meat and plant ingredients may tick quite a few boxes for many consumers. In New Zealand, Premier Beehive have led the way introducing these cross-over products with the recent launch of their ‘Flexitarian Sausages’ in supermarkets across the country. These sausages all have between 60% - 62% meat content*.

Dene Mckay, Managing Director from Premier Beehive says “Based on the feedback from the first 6-7 weeks in the market, the consumer is very pleased with the taste and quality of the products.” “Consumers like the offering from a traditional sausage to something new and alternative”

And Hellers Smallgoods have recently followed suit with their Flexitari-yum range of smallgoods, which includes sausages, burger patties and meatballs which will contain between 50-55% meat. Their Miso Beef and Black Rice Burger sounds totally yum and incorporates not just what the title suggests but also kale, fresh grated ginger and shitake mushrooms.

Brand Manager, Brydon Heller says “This is not a trend, it’s a wellness movement and we have to acknowledge and respond to it”.

Taste and flavour are of paramount importance at Hellers and they’ve worked hard to ensure their new range meets those standards,

“If someone picks up one of our Flexitari-yum sausages over a traditional sausage we don’t want them to be disappointed” said Heller.

Some might argue flexitarianism is just another fad or a passing trend, and time will tell if this is the case. Others may argue there’s no such thing as a flexitarian sausage. All that aside, from a nutritional perspective increasing our vegetable or wholegrain intake by including these in our favourite sausage has got to be a good thing.

NOTE: * The legislation around sausage content is 50% or 500g/kg fat free meat with the ratio of fat being no more than 50% in total. Many sausages however have a much higher meat content. _Foodstandards.govt.nz