For years, meatballs have been the crown jewel of Ikea’s successful food division. Now, the Swedish company’s long-anticipated vegan meatballs are about to make their debut in Ikea restaurants around the globe. HuffPo reports that on their April 9th debut, a plate of 10 GRÖNSAKSBULLAR veggie balls will run you a paltry $4.49. The fun of saying that name: Priceless.

HuffPo spoke to Michael La Cour, who is IKEA’s Managing Director of Food Services. He told them:

“IKEA in general wants to be a modern, forward-thinking company and we want to do the same with our food. The veggie ball is the first example of the journey on which we will continue.”

IKEA claims the new veggie balls feature a reduced carbon footprint as compared to their traditional Swedish meatballs. One thing’s for sure: the nutrition facts on the veggie balls vs. the old-school meatballs are impressive.

ikea veggie balls nutrition facts

The veggie balls have 60 less calories overall per 100 gram serving, and almost half the fat. Note that they do, however, also contain 170 mg more sodium than their meaty counterparts, so that’s a definite consideration if you’re watching the saltiness of the balls you’re eating.

ikea meatball

Gothamist spoke to IKEA food product developer Annika Pettersson, who offered more details:

“We wanted to add a really good vegetarian alternative to our menu. More and more people choose vegetarian alternatives for different reasons—some to save the planet, others for health reasons. Our goal was to create something as appreciated as the loved meatball, but without animal content.”

Another spokesperson for IKEA told Gothamist that specific accompaniments for the veggie ball platter hadn’t been decided yet, but that chefs were “developing new dishes with fresh ingredients to accompany the veggie balls.”

If you’re wondering why IKEA would spend so much time reconfiguring its meatball options, think about this: in 2013, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the IKEA Food division had $2 billion in annual revenue. That’s the type of revenue to land it squarely in a rivalry with more commonly-thought-of food purveyors Panera Bread and Arby’s. That’s not bad for a furniture store.

meatballs yeah

None of this happened overnight. IKEA first started serving food about 30 years ago, when founder Ingvar Kamprad was concerned about too many shoppers perusing his stores while hangry. Then-store manager Sören Hullberg had to come up with a Swedish menu that also fit the company’s ethos of frugality. Hullberg told WSJ how the classic IKEA menu came to be:

We decided upon five dishes because you can’t have 25 items on a menu in a store that is supposed to serve 5,000 customers on a Saturday. The guests will have too much to choose from. It won’t work. The staff won’t have time to get the food out and the inventories will be too big.”

IKEA Meatball options will be expanding again later this month. On April 27th, the new KYCKLINGBULLAR balls will be introduced. These chicken-based meatballs will be gluten-, dairy-, and antibiotic-free, and will cost $4.99 for a plate of 10.

More good news: If your goal in life is to cram all of IKEA’s delicious balls in your mouth at once, both the veggie and chicken balls will be available in the IKEA Food Market on June 27th. 

[via HuffPo, WSJ, Gothamist]