CSIRO and Hungry Jacks bite into plant-based burger market

Liz Wells, 14/10/2019

The Hungry Jack’s Rebel Whopper has launched the Australian v2food product this week. Photo: Neil Lyon

V2FOOD, a partnership between CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures and Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin, has launched its first plant based alternative meat product as the centrepiece of Hungry Jack’s new Rebel Whopper burgers. founder and CEO Nick Hazell said it is intended the product will quickly expand from its domestic base into an export product, with retail outlets, restaurants and quick-service restaurants targeted.

“Where beef is being bought is where we want to be,” Mr Hazell said.

According to Mr Hazell, research in the United States showed 80 per cent of plant-based burger sales came from meat eaters, and while v2food was sure to service the vegan market, Mr Hazell said its future lay in demand from omnivores.

“We’ve chosen to focus on the 99pc who are meat lovers rather than the 1pc who are vegans.”

Mr Hazell, a former Masterfoods and PepsiCo research director, said Australia’s “clean and green” reputation made it a well-respected exporter of food and meat to the world, and the meat category would soon include plant-based meat.

“For us to be clearly Australian is a good idea.

Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin, v2food founder and CEO, Nick Hazell, and Minister Karen Andrews at the v2food launch. Photo: v2food

“We do want to establish ourselves as an Australian brand.”

Mr Hazell said he expected v2food to gain export traction in North Asia, including China, which would in turn add significant value to agriculture produce grown in Australia.

“We see ourselves as producing meat for export within the agricultural system in Australia.”

Mr Hazell said v2food could also take some market share from other types of meat including pork, the production of which had been impacted in parts of Asia by African Swine Fever.

Plant announcement imminent

Mr Hazell said v2food had shortlisted several sites in eastern Australia which could house its planned $20-million plant.

“We haven’t chosen one yet; we’re getting down to the last few.”

“We’re looking for sites to house the factory, and the build will be starting in a couple of months.”

Mr Hazell said sheds rather than greenfield sites were being considered in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

The v2food product has been developed this year at the CSIRO precinct at Werribee near Melbourne.

“We’ve basically built a mini factory in Werribee at a rather accelerated rate.

“It’s enough to get into the market.”

The Rebel Whopper is selling at Hungry Jack’s for the same price as a beef Whopper, and Mr Hazell said it was part of v2food’s plan to price its products on par with and not above its beef equivalents.

v2food “mince” is made from legumes, and contains added fibre and nutrients.

The v2food company intends it to have “a leading presence” in-store and in cafes by early next year.

Mum on future inputs

Mr Hazell said CSIRO was looking at the type or types of legume which would be best suited to producing v2food in large-scale commercial production, and he would not be drawn on the tonnage needed to supply the new plant.

“We will require a decent supply.

“If we’re going to make an impact on a global problem, we need another meat industry’s worth of meat globally.

“We have to move quickly.”

The Hungry Jack’s Nutrition Guide as published on its website lists the ingredients in the Rebel patty as: water; soy protein; vegetable oil; thickeners 461 and 1442; flavours including glutamic Acid 620; dextrose; caramel colour 150c; antioxidants 300 and 307, and smoke flavour.

Second $20m plant

The v2food launch has come hot on the heels of EAT Group’s announcement of its planned $20m plant at Horsham in Victoria.

It will manufacture plant-based isolates from faba beans and lentils, and Mr Hazell said it might supply product to v2food.

“EAT is the first manufacturer in this space and it’s a great initiative.

“We’re making plant-based meat, and while there are aspects of the businesses that are similar, it’s a different business to ours.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said v2food presented an opportunity for Australian grain farmers to be at the forefront of the growing plant-based protein market, which would help to grow and create jobs.

“This isn’t about taking a share of the existing meat market, this is an additional opportunity to create a new market that could add $6 billion to our economy by 2030,” she said.


v2food was formed by CSIRO’s Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures, a part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), in 2018.

Competitive Foods Australia has also contributed seed funding to help launch v2food.

v2food is marketing itself as a flavoursome and sustainable plant-based product which looks, cooks and tastes like meat.

CSIRO provided research and development resources to v2food on a research-for-equity arrangement.

CSIRO projects this new industry to be worth more than $6 billion by 2030 in Australia.

v2food will begin to appear in restaurants and cafes throughout the remainder of the year and aims to have a leading presence in-store and in cafes around Australia by early 2020.



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  1. Anthony Shadie, 16/02/2021

    Are you putting the legume based haemoglobin in any of the vegetarian or vegan meat substitutes.
    I cannot find it listed on any ingredients list.

  2. Therese Mcmullan, 04/01/2020

    plant based healthy fake mince made in Australia??Yrs
    lobbying for this. Where is Hungry Jacks buying it from?
    Can I?thanks Therese

  3. Therese Mcmullan, 04/01/2020

    lobbied csiro for healthy palnt based meat made in oz.
    Any made with mushroom?Low salt,low fat?where can I buy
    australain plant based meat?ASAP…thanks Therese

  4. Kathy, 17/10/2019

    Hoping this fake insult isn’t cooked on same grill as beef or chicken.!!
    If you wanted to do a Veggie burger, that would be fine, but to TRY & make a plant based burger, that tastes like BEEF, is REDICULOUS..!!!

    • Abby Gee, 03/11/2019

      Maybe you could actually try it? Your angry, know all ravings, when you haven’t managed the basic task of even trying the bloody thing, about are precisely all that’s wrong online. I had a rebel burger and it does actually taste like meat. But then I assume that the scientists at the CSIRO, farmers and burger experts like Hungry Jacks are more than capable of creating such a thing, that said I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.

  5. Trevor, 16/10/2019

    In your ad on tele, people are saying that they can’t tell the difference. Does this mean that you have been using this plant-based before????

  6. Peter Young, 16/10/2019

    Why is the Plants that they use in this rebel whopper not mentioned anywhere in Hungry Jacks website or on this site maybe plant content is very low. Still prefer natural beef to artificial food high chemical contents.

  7. Adsee, 16/10/2019

    I tried one yesterday. It was good and I thought better than the impossible burger used at Grill’d franchise. Canberra trialled the kinda meat burger at HJs as well. I think they should sell all three veg options ongoing. This is all about sustainability, not about taste and any move to reduce meat consumption is a step in the right direction for the planet.

  8. Ingrid mcmahon, 16/10/2019

    I tried hungry Jack’s new rebel burger and thought I was biting into my husband’s whopper. I was so surprised it looked like meat and had a meaty smell and tasted very similar to meat. I will be eating it again. I have been reading comments that people are concerned about the chemicals that may be used in the burger, what about the chemicals sprayed on the feed that they feed the cattle ,not to mention all the antibiotics being injected into the cattle. I think a meat alternative is a great thing, we will save water and stop killing these beautiful animals at least less of them. I hope to see this product in supermarkets soon I for one will be buying the product.

  9. Peter, 16/10/2019

    I tried it. It’s revolting.

  10. Mary Grech, 15/10/2019

    I tryed this burger! It didn’t taste like beef ! It had a funny smell about it! And it looked like shredded cardboard! I’m a meat eater and I’ll stay a meat eater! The smell reminded me of shelaq yuk

  11. Peter McHugh, 15/10/2019

    Check out how much MLA Beef levy & Government Donor funding CSIRO received 2017 – 2018 , to save you time over 12.5 Million .
    Also the conflict of interest as i think there is one with MLA Chair Dr Michele Allen being a Director of CSIRO along with 4 other positions on various boards & university .
    ACCC would do very well to check out her total conflict of over $30 million since she has been MLA chair.
    Maybe MLA cease funding CSIRO with Beef Money , now there’s a thought.

  12. Paul Franks, 15/10/2019

    Round and round the hysteria goes. On todays ABC website

  13. Ian McDuie, 15/10/2019

    How can you have “plant-based meat”.
    The only plant based meat is that which has been initially processed through an animal that consumes plants.
    Wouldn’t mind so much if it was called “plant-based substitute meat”.
    Where is the whole meat industry in this. We need TV and full page press ads to counter this sinister erosion of the market.
    Vegans and veggies are a small percentage of the market but if a large percentage of general consumers start to think that plant -based foods are more healthy, (they are not unless you can metabolise high levels of sodium) the red meat industry needs to be prepared to counteract this.
    All the various organisations involved, from farmers to agents to feedlotters to processors need to put aside their individual lobbying objectives and work as one.
    Faint hope, maybe.

  14. John Gunthorpe, 14/10/2019

    Veggie burgers have been selling for over 20 years. If this is a new market, then it will not displace meat patties. It will be interesting to see if Hungry Jacks lose meat burger sales in favour of the veggie burgers – I doubt it. I know I will not be enjoying a Hungry Jack Burger again. I do not want my meat patties being grilled on the same plate as veggie patties.

    Can the Minister tell us how much of our taxes have been spent on this enterprise? Have any gifts / loans been advanced to EAT Group or their investor Scalzo Group? Did EAT pay for the work of CSIRO or did government taxes fund it?

    It is reported that they need 4.5 kgs of faba beans to make a kg of plant protein powder. Well, if those faba beans were fed to good quality beef cattle, you could produce a kg of trim meat to turn into a quality meat burger. So where is the benefit? And all those other chemicals that are added to the kg of plant protein – NO THANKS.
    Australian Cattle Industry Council

    • Doug Miles, 15/10/2019

      It is not just a case of vim vala bim we have a vegan burger. What chemicals are used in the fermenting process. Not to mention the sprays and chemicals used to produce the plant material or are the genetically modified. Essentially grass fed beef is almost as clean as you can get. Long gone are the days where the practice of dipping every 3 weeks for ticks was a habit. Cattle have evolved due to the introduction and development of low maintenance easy care breeds like the Droughtmaster and Brahman that can produce high quality beef economically in places where goannas used to struggle . Apart from a bit of IVOMEC (derived from soil) based product I use very little chemical in my operation. The beef industry needs to promote the industry as it is. Clean, Green. We don’t wake up in the morning and poor a chemical brew down the neck of our stock. The beef is produced economically on farm and have been doing so for ever. Its the supply chain to the consumer that has to look at itself. Like it or not vegan burgers are in the market and they have the ability to pinch a slice of the market. Eyes on the ball. Complacency is death.

      • Sean, 18/12/2019

        Yes I question the chemical content from start to finish with this fake meat ! Very scary

  15. Paul D. Butler, 14/10/2019

    What a real travesty…….for beef producers………government promoting Lab Slime products………with your tax money.

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