Generation Next: how Halo hopes to conquer the plant-based burger market

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Generation Next: how Halo hopes to conquer the plant-based burger market

Related tags: Plant-based, Burger, Restaurant, pop up, London

Having launched Halo Burger in POP Brixton in 2018, Ross Forder has opened his first bricks and mortar site in Shoreditch. And now he plans to take the brand global.

What is Halo Burger?
We’re a burger brand looking to accelerate the popularity of plant-based foods. And we’re doing this primarily by showing that you can create a classic juicy burger using a plant-based patty. Often veganism comes with a need to compromise, but we want to prove that that isn’t always the case. 

Is it aimed at vegans?
No. While I’m vegan myself, we want to present Halo Burger as a viable option for everyone, particularly the flexitarian market; those trying to reduce their meat intake, or even those who haven’t taken that step yet, but are considering it. 

Where did the idea comefrom?
It was born out of an inspirational dissatisfaction. As a vegan, I had become disillusioned with the burgers out there that were available to me, which often consisted of patties made from kale and quinoa and, with the greatest will in the world, just weren’t as satisfying as a beef burger. At the time I was working for Tesla, a place where the notion of something being impossible is, itself, impossible. Originally I wanted to explore the idea of trying to recreate meat products from plants. However, it soon turned out that companies like Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods had already been working on this for a while. So my next thought was to develop a platform for these products. These proteins are the future, and I wanted to create a restaurant brand that put them front and centre.

There are plenty of plant-based burger producers available, but Halo exclusively uses Beyond, why is that?
It’s one of the least compromised options on the market; it has the most authentic flavour and realistic texture.

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How did you go about designing the menu?
I took a lot of inspiration from my favourite US burger joints in California. A large part of the process came down to building burgers that used different sized patties. So our classic Halo burger, for example, uses a 1/8 patty, which is thinner with slightly less definition and served with salad and sauces. And then we have the Smoky Carolina, which has a thicker quarter pounder patty, with a smoked gouda-style cheese, barbecue sauce, deep friend onions, and no salad; meaning nearly all of the emphasis is on flavours that would usually come from meat-based products. It’s about catering to as many people as possible. We’ve done a lot of research when sourcing the vegan cheese and mayonnaise; we look at a lot of similar products, and try them all within our burger builds. And then we consider whether it’s a zero-compromise solution that will appeal to those that are meat eaters as well as vegans. We’ve also created some of the elements ourselves, such as the seasoning for the patty, and the burger sauce. 

Halo’s branding is very distinctive, what was the thought behind that?
It’s all about normalising the concept. Often a vegan burger restaurant will be designed with an overtly green design and can often promote an overtly moralistic messaging, but if we want to appeal to a broad, predominately flexitarian market, we have to make sure the branding is welcoming and familiar. So we’ve adopted a classic, mainstream look that’s nostalgic, and gives the brand a personality that never feels distancing.

Given the growing saturation in the vegan burger market​, how are you looking to position Halo going forwards?
Our USP, of sorts, is that we’re showcasing the latest animal product substitute, which is served up in a classic fast food environment. We’re now stocking the new Beyond Burger 4.0 patty, which we believe us the most authentic plant-based burger product on the market right now. A lot of restaurant brands offer something similar, but I don’t think they’re following in our footsteps.

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Halo Burger founder Ross Forder

What are your plans for the future of the business?
The concept has been built so that it can be optimised across various locations and markets, which we’ve done through the design of the menu and the branding. We’re in the process of looking to secure funding so that we can ensure the business is franchise ready. From there, we’ll look to expand to multiple sites in order to start the process of fulfilling our mission statement. 

How many sites are you aiming for?
In the short term we’ll be looking to establish another two or three in quick succession. And then, separate to that we’d want to launch a franchise model for the brand, not just domestically but also internationally. This plant-based market is blowing up in multiple cities across the world, so we have to move quickly. My aim is to see Halo Burgers across a number of major cities across the world in the next five years. 

Generation Next is a club for the rising stars in hospitality. For information on how to join or the next club events, contact wb.jnggne@jeoz.pbz 

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