IKEA's Managing Director for Food Services Michael La Cour Talks Sustainability and New Menu Offerings
NEW YORK, NY - If we're being totally honest, most of the trips we've taken to IKEA are to view the latest offerings at the food court. Wandering away from the bountiful household items, we find ourselves taking in another bounty: that of delicious meal options. A highlight of any trip, the company has taken note of its foot traffic—more than 660 million people stop by the food court annually—and is looking to up its culinary offerings and keep paving the way in food innovation.
“Food has been an important part of IKEA from the beginning,” La Cour told Future Food-Tech New York. “The first IKEA Restaurant opened in 1959, only a year after the first IKEA store opened in Älmhult, Sweden. Later the IKEA Bistro and the Swedish food market was added to the concept. The IKEA meatballs are a true IKEA icon as well-known as BILLY bookshelf and KLIPPAN sofa and as Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s Founder, said: ‘You can’t do business on an empty stomach.’"
La Cour stated that close to a billion people visit an IKEA store annually, and more often than not, these hungry patrons are looking for a quick and healthy meal. To fill this demand, IKEA wants to innovate its menu and look for new flavors and recipes its customers will enjoy.
“We want to inspire healthier and more sustainable eating and lifestyles in our Restaurants, Bistros, and Swedish Food Markets. One could say that we have become obsessed with developing delicious, affordable, healthy, and sustainable food. Simply: better food for people and the planet. We believe that through our business we can support and influence positive change,” La Cour said.
Currently, IKEA creates food based on the five Democratic Design principles: function, form, quality, sustainability, and low price. These principles have encouraged IKEA to examine its whole value chain, in order to offer food items with health and sustainability at their core.
One way IKEA is keeping its sustainability cutting edge is by tackling food waste in its stores. Its initiative “Food is Precious” has the goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the end of August 2020, and part of its Bootcamp project is exploring sustainable food options by partnering with start-ups dedicated to healthy, sustainable eating.
“I think that we are looking at an industry that will go through an end-to-end change in the coming years. Technological innovation will play a vital role in that change. Facing the challenges that I mentioned earlier, I think we should see this moment in time as a golden opportunity to engage with smart, useful technology that can have an impact throughout the value chain,” finished La Cour.
To read the interview in its entirety, click here.
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