When running a restaurant, it's crucial to stay on top of food trends and adapt accordingly. As consumers' tastes change, so should your menu. One recent trend gaining steam is the proliferation of plant-based foods. We wanted to take a closer look at this trend and how it will impact restaurants and other foodservice businesses. Here's what we discovered.
A Breakdown of Food Trends for 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective for Americans, including where we get our food. As the meat supply was impacted during the pandemic and as consumers look for healthier options, more and more people are turning to plant-based alternatives. Here are some stats to chew on for the coming year:
- Only about 15 percent of Americans eat vegetarian and vegan foods full-time, but more people are starting to incorporate meatless meals.
- About half of consumers report eating more plant-based meals in 2021, and 62 percent report eating a meatless meal at least once a week.
- Sustainability seems to be a driving factor of the switch, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z demographics. Other factors include health concerns and the rising cost of meat.
- According to reports, the plant-based food market is projected to reach $162 billion by 2030. In 2020, that number was $29.4 billion.
Overall, the plant-based trend doesn't look like it's going anywhere, and as supply chain issues continue, restaurants need to get creative.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Menu
While plant-based foods and other sustainability trends are on the rise, what does that mean for your bottom line? Let's look at some of the advantages of these trends.
- Reduced Plastic - Sustainability in foodservice is a major selling point for consumers, so you can lean into that idea. Plant-based ingredients use less plastic overall. Also, you can switch to biodegradable options, like agave straws and packaging from businesses like The Sustainable Agave Company.
- Broader Appeal - As more consumers become "flexitarians" (eating more meatless meals), they'll want plant-based dishes. So, offering a mix can help your restaurant appeal to a broader audience.
- Lower Costs - Meat prices are high because of the pandemic, but they're also often much higher than plant-based alternatives. So, making a portion or majority of your menu plant-based can help improve your bottom line.
- Built-In Marketing - High demand for healthier foods and meat alternatives means you can capitalize on the trend just by adding some unique menu items. Just promoting your plant-based dishes can help build brand awareness.
Sourcing a Plant-Based Menu
Now that you know the advantages of going plant-based, where do you get your ingredients? Here are some top-tier suppliers specializing in this market.
Seafood restaurants don't have to miss this trend, thanks to the wide variety of plant-based alternatives from Good Catch. Options include breaded fish fillets, crab cakes, fish burgers, and plant-based tuna. Best of all, most customers won't be able to tell the difference.
Veggie burgers were one of the first plant-based meat alternatives, and Burke has you covered. You can choose between crumbles or ground beef, both seasoned and unseasoned. Burke also offers chorizo-style crumbles and pepperoni-style slices for maximum versatility.
Alpha offers ready-to-go plant-based meals and entrees, helping you stay on top of this trend while maximizing productivity. This company has many options, including burritos, breakfast sandwiches, mac n' cheese, meatballs, pizza, and more. You could theoretically build a whole plant-based menu from these offerings.
This company offers two types of oat-based products: Pulled Oats and Deli Oatbites. Both options have similar textures and flavors as meat but use all-natural plant-based ingredients. Pulled Oats work well as a pulled pork substitute, while Oatbites can work by themselves or as a filling for tacos, burritos, or other entrees.
Although most beans are vegetarian and/or vegan, traditional baked beans are not. Bush's makes vegetarian baked beans to replace any that might be on your menu already.