Gryta med cashewkött
Food and Drinks | Product | Trademarks

CashewMeetly – Climate-Smart Vegan Meat from the Cashew Apple

The trademark CashewMeetly is a plant-based, nutritious alternative to meat containing just one ingredient: organic cashew apple. CashewMeetly is a food innovation that helps reduce climate impact by utilising the fruit otherwise discarded after harvesting cashew nuts.

The idea for CashewMeetly came about by chance. Linnéa Falkinger, a social entrepreneur and founder, has lived and worked extensively in Senegal since she was 15, where in 2016 she was invited by friends to what she thought was a meat stew. She couldn’t quite identify the meat she was eating, but its texture and colour reminded her of animal meat. The taste was slightly sweet and sour with a lot of umami, but it was not meat; it was cashew apple, Linnéa explains.

portrait of the founder Linnéa Falkinger
Linnea Falkinger

In the stew, the flesh from the cashew apple was used, which is otherwise considered waste in the production of cashew nuts. Linnéa saw the potential and a large global market ahead.

– My friends had a great thing going but saw it as a by-product that one could eat and be satisfied with, while I saw development opportunities, to be able to utilise a huge food waste and at the same time offer a nutritious natural plant-based meat on the global market but most importantly offer fair job opportunities to local women.

One Apple per Nut

En äppleliknande frukt med en nöt i ett träd
A growing cashew apple with a cashew nut

The cashew nut, which is actually a seed, grows under the cashew apple. It takes one apple per nut, and for every cashew nut harvested, a whole edible and nutritious cashew apple is thrown away due to its very short shelf life and because it’s not very palatable fresh. For 10 kg of cashew nuts, 90 kg of cashew apples are discarded as waste. Just in Africa, over 22 million tonnes of cashew apples rot away each year in conjunction with the harvest of the cashew nuts, and Africa accounts for about 60% of the world’s production, Linnea shares.

Social, Sustainable, and Circular Business Model

As a mother to four soon to be five daughters and a woman with a passionate interest in women's rights, she envisioned creating more jobs for small women’s cooperatives in Senegal and together with them, building something very good from farm to table.

In 2019, she founded the company and brand CashewMeetly with a focus on creating a sustainable product from production to end-user and since the beginning, the circular, sustainable, and socially responsible business model has continued to be as important as the product itself.

Significant Processing

The production of the product is created through a natural and complex multi-step processing innovation developed in collaboration with the women in Senegal where everything is done by hand. The fruit is handpicked and processed immediately before finally being dried in solar ovens locally. Unlike many other producers, they also package their goods locally, completely without unnecessary intermediaries or transport.

– We buy apples directly from the farmers and ensure they get help with Fairtrade certification, which also guarantees the farmers are paid well for the raw material and they receive a certain percentage back for everything they sell. We produce, process, and package together with the women locally in each production country and then it’s shipped by boat to Sweden after each season.

The circular aspect of the business model involves reinvesting part of the profits into local children and youths’ education and schooling, and among other things, they have raised capital to build a factory in Senegal that will eventually generate 500 new job opportunities for women who will be able to produce about 1000 tonnes of dried product per year.

Trademark Protection and Trade Secret

Linnéa sought professional help early on to protect the trademark in the Nordics and Europe, and after consulting on patenting the unique drying process, they ultimately decided to keep it a secret. Only a few in each production know the entire processing method, and by keeping certain parts secret, they can protect it.

– The product we make today is the first in the world to do so. There are those who just dry the apple, but we don’t. We have a natural processing that occurs in many steps, and if you skip any step, you get a completely different product.

Collaboration with Axfood and Jävligt Gott

Today, Linnea collaborates with Axfood, whom she contacted through the food incubator Krinova Science Park in Kristianstad. Since then, they have worked on developing and introducing CashewMeetly to the Swedish market, and today the product can be purchased in the brand’s own webshop, online at Happy Vegan, at Willys, Citygross, Hemköp, and Urban Deli. They have also recently started a collaboration with Martin & Servera and are working together with Sweden's leading food influencer in Vegan and sustainability, cookbook author Gustaf Johansson, who inspires with various recipes of the product on his blog "Jävligt gott", and who is also a shareholder in CashewMeetly.

Goals and Future Vision

The name CashewMeetly was born from a play on words since the company plans to eventually utilise the nuts and juice as well, wanting a name that could be interpreted as a first meeting with the entire fruit.

Linnea aims to continue building a strong brand and is seeking a larger long-term investment partner who shares the same values to scale up globally without compromising on sustainability, social responsibility, and circularity.

– We would need to raise between 20-40 million to reach the next stage.

So far, the production of the CashewMeetly brand has expanded from Senegal to Brazil and Benin, and more countries like India and Tanzania have already been trained. Next in line are Vietnam, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, and Ivory Coast, which will receive training and production start-up during the year. A team from Senegal regularly goes out and trains both farmers and local small producers in new countries.

– Since the business model is scalable and the Cashew tree grows along the equator all over the world, my goal is to start more sustainable circular and social productions in more countries with large productions of cashew nuts where cashew apples are still going to waste, concludes Linnea Falkinger.

Photos: CashewMeetly

The interview was made in 2024.