Waitrose launches ‘marbled’ vegan steak on same shelf as real meat

Waitrose launches Juicy Marbles vegan steak
Waitrose launches Juicy Marbles vegan steak

Waitrose has become the first supermarket in the UK to sell a plant-based filet mignon, but the “marbled” vegan steaks are stocked on the same shelves as real meat.

Customers buying the 225g soy and wheat protein based fillets at £10 a piece would be forgiven for potentially mistaking them for cuts of Wagyu.

Created by biotechnicians at the Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles, the steaks contain nuggets of hardened sunflower oil to mimic fat marbling and beetroot powder to stain the “flesh” and juices red.

Unlike other plant alternatives, which use 3D printing methods, its creators rely on a grinder, named the Meat-O-Matic 9000, to layer the plant protein fibres on top of one another, mimicking genuine muscle fibres.

Waitrose launched the vegan product as part of its Valentine’s Day meal deal offer which also includes ribeye steaks with Bearnaise sauce at £10 and rump steaks with chimichurri at £9.

Juicy Marbles vegan steak
Juicy Marbles vegan steak

A spokesman for the supermarket said the product will sit with its plant-based alternatives in April after the Valentine’s promotion ends on Feb 14.

Martyn Lee, executive chef at Waitrose, added: “The thing that is really exciting about this product is when cooking you see the raw protein turn into a caramelised and juicy steak that looks like the real thing.”

Juicy Marbles said achieving appetising marbling on the steaks was the biggest challenge its biotechnicians faced while developing the product.

Expensive cuts of beef rely on the high fat content provided by rare breeds of cow.

Luka Sincek, a microbiologist and co-founder of Juicy Marbles, said technologies such as 3D printing and lab-grown meat for achieving the marbling were “too complicated”, “too slow”, and had “too many behavioural barriers”.

“That’s why we developed our own original machine – lovingly called the Meat-o-Matic Reverse Grinder 9000 – which combines a couple of existing technologies, to which we have modified and added some of our own innovations,” he said.

Juicy Marbles said achieving appetising marbling on the steaks was the biggest challenge
Juicy Marbles said achieving appetising marbling on the steaks was the biggest challenge

He added the company is “pleased to see the introduction of Juicy Marbles’s steaks in Waitrose” before adding they are “big fans of romance” and “anything that has to do with celebrating love is our jam”.

The Juicy Marbles steaks are already available online or in the US and gained popularity online last May after a viral TikTok video from the singer and flautist Lizzo.

The video, which attracted 1.7 million likes and more than 8,000 comments, shows the Grammy-winning musician cooking the steaks with vegan eggs and butter, ketchup and rosemary.

She said: “It has a smell that smells like meat, spam. I don’t get paid for these, so I will be honest. It has a cornbeef-like consistency, it’s good.”