Volkswagen has just announced that it will update its 50-year-old menu staple food at its headquarters in Wolfsburg to vegan. For half a century, the German automotive group has been presenting a characteristic currywurst dish at its headquarters and alongside its promise to reshape its corporate policy in a sustainable manner. In recent years, the automaker has started to upgrade its manufacturing facilities and reduce its CO2 emissions to promote sustainability in the automotive industry. Now the company will stop accepting meat, with the exception of fish, in its staff canteen.
The vegetable layer breaks with the company’s 48-year tradition and is parting with its renowned sausage brand for the first time. The automobile company first launched its own sausage brand in 1973 and has since expanded to include restaurants in six factories as well as several supermarkets and concession stands in football stadiums. The company said it sold 7 million of its sausages in 2019. The company found that it has produced more sausage than cars several times a year over the past 50 years.
VW wants to become more sustainable
The automaker’s effort is a change in the midst of a broader effort to improve the company’s sustainability policy. The company announced that it would become a climate neutral company by 2050 and minimize its negative environmental impact in terms of production and sales. The company has promised to reduce its waste of CO2, water and energy over the next 30 years. The company said it hopes to reduce its environmental externals by 45 percent compared to 2010 numbers.
“When it comes to emissions, we did not meet our own standards in several areas. The irregularities in dealing with emission tests contradict everything we stand for, ”the company wrote on its website. “We will do everything in our power to prevent such incidents from happening again, and we are fully committed to re-adhering to our standards and regaining public trust.”
The plant-based diet is the company’s most recent tactic to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, but it immediately saw a backlash from several public figures. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke out against the decision of the car company and asked Volkswagen to reconsider its decision to exclude traditional animal-based currywurst from its canteens.
“If I were still on the board [Volkswagen], something like that would not have happened, “wrote the Chancellor on LinkedIn. “A vegetarian diet is good, and I do it myself in phases. But basically no currywurst? No!”
The decision to introduce plant-based sausages also coincides with the rapidly growing market for vegan sausages. A Future Market Insights report released in December 2020 concluded that the vegetable sausage market could be valued at $ 6.3 billion by 2028. The report points to growing popularity in the vegan sausage sector and gives Volkswagen a reason to rearrange its menu to meet growing demand.
“The growth of the vegetable sausage market is being supported by increasing health awareness and the resulting decline in meat consumption,” said an analyst from Future Market Insights. “This limited consumption of meat products has led to a further decline in production and has given way to the expansion of the vegetable sausage market.”
The company’s sustainability efforts extend across the company and have driven the production and sale of electric cars in recent years. The company announced that its deliveries of all-electric vehicles have tripled from 2020.
In addition to the currywurst, the company expanded its meat removal to around 150 recipes in the head office. According to Automotive News, the restaurant is slated to reopen after the August break. Finally, CEO Herbert Diess plans to ban all meat from factory farming from the plant by 2025 to support his efforts to reduce CO2. Last year, the VW restaurant Nordwing began offering the brand’s 14,000 employees a vegetarian alternative in order to promote plant-based foods for the first time.
“We want to show that vegetarian food can always be an alternative to meat,” said Thomas Kleiner, kitchen manager at the VW Nordwind restaurant, to Fortune.