Luxury goods group LVMH, owner of a number of top-end brands including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Moet and Chandon, has entered the alternative meat sector. Well, to be a little more precise, the investment has been made by L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm, and of which LVMH is a partner.

So, what, exactly, has tempted LVMH, which owns 75 luxury “houses”, to enter alternative proteins by taking a stake in an alternative chicken house, so to speak?

What has whetted the group’s appetite is a Swiss company called Planted, a university spin-off based in Kemptthal, which will launch its plant-based chicken breasts later this month in Berlin - in the restaurant of a Michelin star restaurant, no less.

Novel biostructuring approach

Planted was founded as recently as 2019 and claims to be Europe’s fastest growing alternative protein company.

It focuses on what it calls the perfect bite through its novel biostructuring approach that combines protein structuring and fermentation. The technology enables the company to design and produce larger pieces of meat with complex structures, texture, juiciness and tenderness.

Biostructured proteins will, Planted believes, eventually outperform animal meat in terms of taste, sustainability, health, efficiency and price.

Planted is currently in the final phase of launching various whole-cut products, such as chicken tenders and chicken breast portions. The range will first enter the foodservice market before being launched to retail.

With an extra CHF70 million (US$81 million) under its belt, Dior or otherwise, the company will be better able to roll out this new range and extend the reach of its current offering.

Alternative or imitation?

Not everyone, however, believes in favor of alternative proteins and some like to disparagingly refer to them as mock meat.

For those readers, it might be amusing to consider that the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which allows anyone to quickly authenticate whether a product is a genuine luxury article or a fake, and of which LVMH is a founding member, reports that the trade in fake goods worth around US$4.5 trillion annually.

Luxury goods account for around 60% of the total, but brands cannot easily prevent counterfeiters from creating copy versions of goods, Aura says.

If Planted’s chicken breasts are as good as they say they are, the next time that you sit down to your chicken dinner, with or without a glass of Moet and Chandon, you might want to think about whether your are really eating chicken -  or peas, oats and sunflower seeds.

I think that I’d be happy either way, particularly should there be a second glass of Moet!