Restaurateurs are buzzing about everything from trash vegetables to meatlike produce preparations to cauliflower burgers—all of which point to heightened interest in vegetables among concepts at all price and service levels.
So why all the interest in veggies? Here are four consumer insights that help shed light on this year’s veg-centric trends, pulled from Technomic’s new 2017 Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report.
1. Beyond vegetarian
Meat eaters love their vegetables, too. While consumers do not claim to be eating more vegetarian or vegan fare now versus a year ago, they do attest they’re eating more veggies in general.
Two-fifths of consumers say they are eating more vegetables now than they were last year, compared to 8% who say they are eating less.
Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report showed that more people are eating healthy now than two years ago, and vegetables increasingly equate to health for many people.
Over half of consumers today (52%) say they are eating plant-based fare because it’s healthy for them, compared to 47% of respondents who said the same in 2014.
Zero-waste kitchens featuring stem-to-skin vegetable prep was a trend called out on last month's flurry of forecasts for the coming year. And consumers increasingly eat veggies for sustainability reasons.
Nearly a quarter of consumers today (23%) say they eat plant-based meals for social responsibility or sustainability reasons, compared to 16% of consumers who said the same two years ago.
4. Preferred protein substitute
Corn and mushrooms are replacing commercially produced soy proteins as meat alternatives. The leading protein substitutes of choice among consumers are, in fact, vegetables, with over three-fourths of consumers (77%) stating that they would consider ordering vegetables instead of meat in a restaurant dish.
Moreover, consumer interest in soy as a protein substitute is down from two years ago. Less than two-fifths of consumers (39%) say they would order soy as a meat replacement, down from 45% of diners in 2014.