IKEA set to create the fast food of the future with insects, algae, and mealworms

Illustration for article titled IKEA set to create the fast food of the future with insects, algae, and mealworms
Photo: Paco Nunez (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

We may love IKEA almost as much as we love Costco; and just like with the big box store, we find that many people just come to the giant retailer to eat IKEA-specific foods like Swedish meatballs and lingonberries. IKEA, realizing that 30 percent of its customers are also its food fans, has been playing up its culinary efforts with pop-up restaurants and stand-alone cafes. And obviously, the retailer is completely stocked for such efforts with massive quantities of kitchen-related supplies.

Now Forbes reports today that IKEA is taking its food innovation even further… into the world of the future! Turns out IKEA has a lab in Copenhagen called Space10, which, according to its website, aims “to enable a better, more meaningful and sustainable life for the many people. We are on a mission to explore and design new ways of living.”


Space10 appears to be the place where these ambitious and creative food ideas can be realized. Ideas like “hot dogs that are completely vegetarian, down to the micro-algae bun; a crispy burger made from bugs; and two varieties of ‘meatballs,’ one derived from worms, and the other from vegetables.” A few years ago, Forbes points out, IKEA introduced “Tomorrow’s Meatball — a visual rethinking of IKEA’s iconic meatball using alternative ingredients such as insects, algae, and lab-grown meat.”

If anyone can sell this experimental future food, it would definitely IKEA; we’re just picturing marketing campaigns in pristine, white 2024 kitchens with all the latest spatulas and cabinetry. As long as there’s no complicated assembly required, eaters of the future looking for unconventional proteins should be all for it.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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I would totally eat algae or mealworms or literally whatever if they could make it actually taste good and make it sound appetizing. The idea of a handful of mealworms is pretty nasty, but so is ground chicken, and chicken nuggets are pretty awesome. And my age group loved the green and purple ketchup, so it’s not like weird colors are off the table.

Basically, if it’s cheap, tasty, and nutritious, then bring on the algae and the mealworms.

Edit to add: I didn’t specifically say it, but bring on the lab grown meat, too. Sustainable food without giving up bacon, woohoo.