‘The Vegetarian Butcher,’ a company producing vegetarian meat substitutes, has been put at the forefront of Unilever’s $1.2 billion plan to enter the lucrative and fast-growing meat-free product market. 

Started by ninth-generation Dutch farmer Jaap Korteweg, the company had previously been acquired by the British-Dutch consumer giant in 2018. 

“It’s a dream that comes true for me,” Korteweg said, as per AFP reports.  “My goal was to become the biggest butcher in the world as soon as possible, and at that time people laughed at it because they don’t take it seriously.”

“But for me I took it serious because I wanted to create an alternative for the industrial meat,” he added. 

Once a self-proclaimed “big meat lover”, Korteweg’s converted to vegetarianism around 20 years ago, when he was asked to store dead pigs in his cold storage during a swine fever outbreak.

After that, Korteweg created a small “butcher’s shop” in The Hague, employing expert chefs to come up with vegan and vegetarian alternatives to processed meat products such as bacon, meatballs, and minces. 

 Consumers worldwide are beginning to turn away from meat products, both for health reasons and the effect their production has on climate change.

The plant-based “meat” market is estimated to be worth $100 billion in the next 15 years. 

“Now the next step at Unilever is great, they invest a lot, and they have the knowledge and the power to bring it all over the world, so the team is exploding, and the results too,” said Korteweg, as per AFP reports.