The Craft Meat Company believes it may have created a world-first by using hemp protein in its plant-based mince.

Last year, the Dunedin firm's owners, Grant and Sherie Howie, launched plant-based No Meat Mince, on the back of the rise of alternative proteins.

Yesterday, Howie said No Meat Mince had been relaunched with an improved recipe using hemp protein.

That protein provided not only "great flavour'' but also the health benefits of omega-3, omega-6, essential minerals, vitamins and fibre, he said.

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As New Zealand's vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian markets continued to grow, consumers were demanding new and improved products.

"Flexitarians are looking to replace some of the meat in their diet and so, as a business, we are responding to that new demand,'' he said.

Howie had plant-based protein on his list of possibilities when he bought the long-established then Fishers Meats last year, knowing the trend was coming.

The Craft Meat Company co-owner Grant Howie with teriyaki stir-fry and chilli con carne dishes created using No Meat Mince. Photo / Peter McIntosh
The Craft Meat Company co-owner Grant Howie with teriyaki stir-fry and chilli con carne dishes created using No Meat Mince. Photo / Peter McIntosh

Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported retail sales of plant-derived meat alternatives had risen by almost 25 per cent to an estimated $770 million in the 12 months ended August 2018.

Testing new plant-based products was a family affair, as the couple's youngest daughter followed a vegan diet and was a willing participant, with her friends, in trying out the company's new ideas.

Other new products were under development and planned for launch before the summer started.

The company's Kaikorai Valley production site was perfectly set up to quickly expand volumes, Howie said.

Supermarket and food-service channels in Australia were showing strong interest and the business had the flexibility to customise products to their needs if required, he said.

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