This Vegan Chicken Factory Has Glass Walls For A Reason
Seeking to revolutionize how meat is perceived and consumed globally, Planted aims to trigger a fundamental rethink about the food we eat
by Leigh Venus26th November 2021
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
In 2010, Sir. Paul McCartney lent his face and this famous quote to a PETA film that took viewers behind the opaque walls of slaughterhouses and factory farms.
Although one of the most well-known quotes in the animal rights movement, it took the team behind Planted Foods—a Swiss food tech company dedicated to ending animal suffering through tasty plant-based alternatives to meat—to run with the idea.
Convinced the food industry needed to be more transparent about ingredients and processes, Planted made this literal by building an enormous glasshouse around their production in the heart of their Switzerland-based factory.
Slaughterhouses are often miles away from urban centers, guarded by impenetrable walls and perplexing laws. To date, the primary means of drawing attention to the non-transparency1 of the industry has been through activists sneaking out footage of terrible conditions and practices.
“We built our production under a greenhouse with glass walls and glass ceiling because we want to be transparent in the way we make meat today,” said Planted’s Co-Founder Pascal Bieri. “Unlike the animal meat industry, we have nothing to hide.”
Open, airy, and entirely transparent, the factory and ethos is a sharp contrast to the efforts of meat manufacturers to hide the horrors of their production processes from consumers.
As Planted goes from strength to strength, the team invites everyone to visit their glass-walled factory to take a closer look at what they do.
Beginnings and success
While working in the USA in 2017, Bieri became excited by the potential of plant-based meat replacement products coming to market and saw an opportunity to challenge the status quo of the animal meat industry.
Initially collaborating with his cousin Lukas Böni who was completing a doctorate in food process engineering, financial specialist Christoph Jenny and Lukas’ fellow Ph.D. student Eric Stirnemann later rounded off the founding team of Planted Foods.
United by a love of food, environment, and science, the co-founders spent 2018 deep in research and development at Lukas’ research university, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Their goal was clear from the beginning: create plant-based options that could win over carnivores and vegans alike with clean, 100 percent natural ingredients and transparent processes.
In 2019, Planted received a Pioneer Fellowship, awarding access to infrastructure to fast-track small-scale production and create an early prototype of their first product, planted.chicken.
Fuelled by new technology and a drive to provide ecologically friendly alternatives that could satisfy the cultural desire for meat, the team was thrilled by how close their plant-based product came to replicating the taste and texture of chicken.
Off the back of their initial success, Bieri and the team founded Planted in July 2019. The same year, dozens of restaurants across Zurich, Lucerne, and Geneva put Planted’s chicken on their menus.
An injection of seven million Swiss francs powered construction of a production plant and offices in Kemptthal, Switzerland, and in 2020 Planted launched at one of Switzerland’s largest retail and wholesale companies.
Bieri believes the rise of Planted Foods is thanks to strict adherence to four core principles—natural ingredients, animal welfare, taste, and sustainability—nurtured by a team with complementary skill sets and a drive to change the world for the better.
Recently winning the top prize at the TOP 100 Swiss Startup annual awards2, Planted employs over 140 people and welcomes scores of consumers, schools, and groups to their production facility every month.
Planted is now available at restaurants and retailers across Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland.
In the UK, products are available from the Planted webshop, and the company is rolling out its products at a range of venues, including the Elite family of pubs in Kent and Sussex.
In October, Planted received the Best Artificial Chicken Product award at the Plant-Based World Europe Expo in London.
“We’re super-excited about our launch into the UK market; consumer feedback has been fantastic,” Bieri enthused, “and winning the Award at the Expo makes our whole team proud too. We know that we’re on the right track and developing great-tasting products.”
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