Having run several restaurant companies that focus on healthy eating and with the current plant-based meat fad (yes, I think in general it is a fad, and I’ll explain later), I am often asked about my thoughts on plant-based meats and more specifically, what type of plant-based burger is best for their operation.
The begin, I ask two questions that are fundamental in finding the right solution. “Who are you targeting?” and “Are you replacing a current menu item?”
Who are you targeting?
There are two main groups to target by offering a plant-based burger on your menu – True Vegetarians/Vegans and Flexitarians. If your operation is just introducing a plant-based burger option, the answer to this question will determine if you should offer a plant-based meat burger or if you should offer a vegetable burger option.
Depending on the survey or poll, Vegetarians/Vegans represent 2-6% of the population. However, according to 2021 research commissioned by Sprouts Farmers Market and conducted by One Poll, nearly one in every two Americans consumes more plant-based meals than meat (i.e. a Flexitarian), with the flexitarian lifestyle proving more popular with Gen Z. Clearly, the bigger market opportunity is to offer a plant-based meat burger and appeal to the flexitarian.
Who has the best-in-class Plant-based Burger?
Nation’s Restaurant News is currently conducting a readers poll on “Which Plant-Based restaurant will be the first to go national?” And although this doesn’t answer the best-in-class question, respondents are very passionate about their choice. From a broader list, PLNT Burger and Nomoo are vying as the reader polls “most likely to go national first.” Additionally, BuzzFeed did a recent taste of - “All The Veggie Burgers From National Chains That We Could Get Our Hands On To Find Out Which Ones Are Worth It.” The PLNT Cheeseburger was rated 8 out of 10, the second highest score after the Impossible Whopper which was rated 9 out of 10.
What makes a great Plant-Based Meat Burger?
Interestingly, both PLNT Burger and Nomoo use Beyond Meat. And it appears from earlier articles that Nomoo switched from Impossible Foods. Please note, I am not endorsing one brand over the other, simply stating what I have found. With that said, there are some common themes with plant-based meat burgers.
The Burger Patty: Most restaurants are altering the plant-based meat to differentiate their burger. By way of blending the plant-based meat with vegetables, herbs, spices or other secret ingredients. Furthermore, most are making the patties thin. Think 5/1 or 6/1 patties versus a 2/1 or 3/1 patties.
The Burger Build: In almost all cases, restaurants are creating signature burgers, even with the common cheeseburger. For PLNT, the PLNT Cheeseburger has a Beyond Meat Patty, Caramelized Onion, Pickles, NewFields American Cheese, Green Leaf Lettuce, Roma, Tomato, PLNT Sauce, Potato Buen. For Nomoo, The NOMOO has a Brioche bun, nomon × Beyond Patty, nomoo sauce, American Cheeze, Pickles, Onion, Tomato, and Lettuce. Clearly a signature sauce and signature bun are must haves and having other unique ingredients such as caramelized onions, fried onion straws, smoked tempeh bacon or a different cheese like jack cheese will differentiate your burger.
Are you replacing a current vegetable-based burger?
If you are replacing a current vegetable-based burger, it is important to know who is buying this burger. Is it a flexitarian or a true vegetarian/vegan. If the latter, you will certainly alienate them and potentially lose this group as customers if you switch to a plant-based meat burger.
Numerous studies have shown that the demand for fake meats is almost entirely driven by meat eaters despite fake meat long being associated with vegetarians. And plant-based meat producers know this fact and realize the vegetarian and vegan aversion to eating animals means they're pretty weirded out by the hyper-realistic fake stuff too. Additionally in 2021 Food & Wine asked several longtime vegetarians what they thought about the plant-based meat boom. The common theme, these vegetarians agreed that more meatless options were only a good thing, but the idea of eating something that's formulated to taste more like meat was also off-putting. It's one thing if you swap your beef burger order for an Impossible/Beyond patty now and again; quite another if you long ago abandoned burgers altogether. Afterall, many vegetarians on the planet have been eating three meals a day without new advances in meat technology for years and they have already learned to live without meat.
Why I believe plant-based meat is a fad…
I do believe the demand for meat alternatives will continue, but the industry will not survive unless it continues researching a better product – focusing the needs on affordability and taste. Additionally, consumers are becoming more and more leery of the ingredients and the Orwellian technology used to produce some of these faux meats. I had the opportunity to try several faux meat products from chicken to beef to eggs to shrimp to poke-style tuna while attending the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this year. Sadly, these products were disappointing in flavor and texture. And whether by chance or by luck, I had just sampled some amazing blue-fin tuna at one booth and then sampled the poke-style tuna at the next booth. The difference was night and day. I am truly supportive of finding necessary alternatives to meat for environmental and ethical reasons, and I realize you have to start somewhere, but we are not there yet.
If your company needs assistance in developing plant-based menu items for vegans, vegetarians or flexitarians let us know! We have an incredible network of talented chefs who specialize in each of these areas. Let’s Talk!
#plantbasedburgers #fauxmeat #burgers #vegetarian #vegan #foodtrends2022 #restaurants #restauranttrends
As we come out of the pandemic, consumers are returning to some sort of normalcy. But with COVID variants exploding, costs rising, product shortages and a shrinking labor pool, the Food Service industry will be forever changed. We can no longer run our businesses as we have in the past, as we continue to see uncertain times, and the resulting changes in consumer behavior. So who will succeed in the future? It will be the food service operator that evolves with speed and innovation and it will be the food service operator that really understands the impact of these times on consumer behaviors, not just following the current fad or trend.
In my January 6, 2020 blog, I made some predictions for 2020 and I feel many of these predictions will hold true for the future. As I look across the industry, we will see a continued trend towards healthy and sustainable eating, and diet-friendly menu options; we will continue to see an innovation in technology – from digital marketing and loyalty programs, to strengthening the e-commerce proposition, to cyber-security to contactless technology; we will see necessary changes in the delivery model; we will see Social Justice - beyond the buzzwords; and we will continue to see new food trends and renewed interest in classic stables - Italian, Mexican and Chinese, with a focus on regional specialties. In this blog, I am going to focus on the continued trend towards healthy and sustainable eating, and diet-friendly menu options.
In this post-pandemic era, there is pent up demand to dine out, but consumers are still cautious, and we will not see pre-pandemic sales and traffic for a long time. As a result, food-service operations need to continue to evolve and change in order to be successful.
#2021FoodTrends #2021RestaurantTrends #RestaurantTrends #Restaurants #FoodService
1 Cherryh Cansler, ‘Bold and light: Post-pandemic menu trends revealed’, Fast Casual, May 10, 2021, https://www.fastcasual.com/blogs/bold-and-light-post-pandemic-menu-trends-revealed/
As we enter a new decade, industry experts and chefs have predicted so many trends for 2020. Here are a few trends that I predict for 2020.
Health & Fitness - 2020 will be a year we focus on food as an integral part of our lifestyle. There will be an emphasis on not only healthy food, but food that nourishes the mind and soul.
Our Impact on the Environment - our planet is in distress, and I foresee restauranteurs and chefs taking notice. As an industry we will continue to look for alternatives to plastics and polystyrenes and to sourcing food locally from producers who understand their impact on the environment and society. However in 2020 - we will see bigger changes - an industry that reduces waste significantly, an industry that reduces its consumption of energy and water, and an industry that looks at every product they are using and the impact these products have on the environment.
Vegetables and more Vegetables - menus will be more plant-based, with a greater use of vegetables and a focus on the connection between our food and the impact on our body, mind and soul.
More Conversation at the Table - restaurants will offer more communal tables and offer family-style offerings - thus encouraging interaction and conversation at the table.
"Dry 2020" - the "dry" trend will carry beyond January. Restauranteurs and bartenders will focus on more "dry" spirits - creating amazing "cocktails" that can be enjoyed all day. (And hopefully create a better name than "Mocktails!")
What trends to you predict for restaurants in 2020?
#2020FoodTrends #2020RestaurantTrends #PlantBasedFoods #Vegetables #sustainability #DryJanuary #Communal #HealthAndFitness
Food brands that don’t prioritize the integration of stronger and more transparent environmental practices in their supply chains and products run the risk of suffering from a reputational and financial perspective. Restaurants and the food industry in general, must be mindful of shifting consumer preferences and buying habits, particularly from the perspective of how sustainability influences purchasing decisions and brand loyalty. Are you prepared to meet this growing demand? Let our consultants help you develop sustainable practices.
Why sustainable packaging is a 'must have' for restaurant success
Today one of the big buzz words in our industry is Sustainability. But sustainability is more than a trend, soon it will be part of our everyday business as more and more cities focus on zero-waste policies and such programs as mandatory composting and bans on bags and polystyrene. Now is the time to get ahead of the legislation, rather than being ruled by it. Not only will this improve a restaurants profitability and sales, but it will help us build a legacy for our children and the planet. Here are some easy steps to begin the process: Zero Waste: 6 Pointers to Get Started
The Latest Industry News.
Restaurant Industry Blog | Archives
Restaurant Industry Blog | Categories