Jaap Korteweg: from butcher to meat substitute manufacturer

The words “vegetarian” and “butcher” are rarely heard together due to conflicting meanings. But the Dutchman Jaap Korteweg, the founder of The Vegetarian Butcher brand, cannot be frightened by such an oxymoron! A hereditary butcher, he leads an innovative, award-winning meat alternative company.

For a ninth generation butcher, the future seems quite clear: the continuation of the successful family business. So did he himself, until an outbreak of swine fever forced him to completely reconsider his relationship with meat in 1998. When he was offered a thousand dead carcasses for safekeeping, Jaap experienced something of an epiphany. It was then that there was an all-too-clear realization that whether it was organic, kosher, humane, and so on, all animals ended up in the same place, the slaughterhouse. Jaap says,

Jaap acknowledges that not all vegetarians are willing to eat meat substitutes. However, he is inspired by the opportunity to help those who are on the path to giving up animal products and are experiencing some difficulties in this. The range of his store is wide, but favorites among customers are “beef” burgers and grilled German “sausage”. In addition to vegetarian fast food, The Vegetarian Butcher offers konjac king prawns (Asian plant) vegetable tuna and frighteningly realistic minced soybeans for the preparation of meatballs and various “meat” fillings. The eel salad was voted Food of the Year at the 2012 Taste of the Netherlands competition, and the vegan chicken pieces won an amazing rating in both taste and nutritional value from the Dutch Consumer Association. The company also produces a small range of non-animal products, such as vegan cream-filled croquettes, vegan spring rolls and noodle patties. Jaap is actively working with business partners such as Nico Coffeeman and Chef Paul Bohm to develop new products. .

From the very beginning, The Vegetarian Butcher has received a lot of support. The brand is especially respected for targeting meat eaters looking to change their diets, rather than full-fledged vegetarians. From the New York Times report:

Looking ahead and trying to meet the growing demand, the company plans to open a new large plant in the city of Breda in the south of the Netherlands. In October 2015, the company offered bonds for a new plant, which increased the investment to . The investment was made in the form of bonds maturing in 7 years with an interest rate of 5%. According to Jaap, the number of people interested in financing the new plant is the key to interest in the sustainable development of meat alternatives.

Despite the existing trend and the development of this niche, Jaap strives to be the biggest and best player in the market, distributing its products of vegetarian “meat” around the world. Ambitious? Perhaps, but the motivation and determination of Jaap Korteweg can only be envied.

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