How and Why to Expand Plant-Based Menu Options
It’s no secret that plant-based menu items are trending big time. According to a recent Datassential study, 28% of consumers prefer plant-based protein over animal protein, and a Nielsen study found that 39% of consumers are trying to eat more plants overall. Consumers’ desire to eat gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, low-carb, and keto-friendly is driving interest in products that meet these unique dietary needs. Many of these items include plants as the main ingredients.
“Plant-based products are here for the long haul,” says Julie Altobello, senior marketing manager for health and authenticity at Rich Products. “Our June Consumer Sentiment Tracker found that almost half of consumers are somewhat or extremely likely to purchase a plant-based product in the next 30 days.” Altobello reports that consumers are more interested in foods like plant-based pizzas, dips and spreads, and desserts.
“These categories are good examples of the move into the ‘forward’ space – where foods celebrate and showcase plants such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and cereals,” says Altobello. “These ingredients, not only delicious and indulgent, are also rich in nutrients.” This is an opportunity to respond to growing consumer interest in healthier functional foods.
There are many benefits to adding more plant-based products to your menu. Plant-based food is an intergenerational phenomenon. According to Datassential’s 2022 Plant-Forward Opportunity report, many consumers are willing to pay a comparable price for plant-based meals as they would for meat. This means better margins for restaurateurs.
Statistics show that a menu item also doesn’t have to be entirely plant-based to generate interest. A recent OnePoll study found that 47% of Americans describe themselves as flexitarians, with the goal of eating less meat. A mix of plant and non-plant ingredients appeals to this crowd.
Operators can start integrating plant-based foods into their menus by adding plant-friendly customization options to popular items. “Taking a popular item and simply replacing it with a plant-based ingredient is a great way to add it to the menu, for example, a favorite margarita pizza with a cauliflower crust or a signature sandwich made with a spread of vegetables,” says Altobello.
Rich Products offers a portfolio of plant-based options that give operators a way to experiment with their customer base or expand their plant-based offerings. Operators can swap items like Rich’s American-style plant-based cheese on a turkey burger, or use Rich’s cauliflower pita pocket to create a falafel sandwich. “Each of Rich’s plant-based products was designed with the operator in mind – easy to use, flexible on the menu and, above all, delicious,” says Altobello.
A One Rich customer added a cauliflower crust to his menu about two years ago and had remarkable results. “Not only has it grown steadily since then, it’s now their second best-selling crust,” Altobello says. “It is well placed to attract their loyal flexitarian clientele. There’s a good reason why plant-based products are thriving on quick-service restaurant menus. »
To learn more, visit Rich Product Website.
By Kara Phelps