Consumers are increasingly interested in eating plant-based and meat-free dishes. According to Technomic’s 2021 Center of the Plate: Seafood and Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, most of the population—78%—does not follow a specialized/vegetarian or vegan diet, meaning they allow meat, fish and dairy in their diet. Additionally, according to Mintel’s Plant-Based Protein study from 2021, 86% of consumers who order plant-based proteins aren’t vegan or vegetarian. Yet 42% of consumers say they eat a vegetarian or vegan meal at least once a week—up from 34% in 2018. With more diners interested in eating meatless meals from time to time, many operators are opting to add more plant-based options to their menus. Of course, menu success is important, so it’ll be crucial for operators to be strategic in choosing foods that are growing in popularity to offer as plant-based options is an easy way to ensure menu success.
For some operators, there may be a bit of hesitancy holding them back from adding more plant-based choices to the menu—misconceptions surrounding affordability versus profit, for instance, as well as perhaps not knowing how to craft high-margin plant-based options that diners will love, can hold operators back. Luckily, though, there are ways to ensure menus are cost-effective while also being delicious.
Dispelling cost misconceptions
Plant-based meals are often thought of as being more expensive to produce, and in turn, must be priced higher on the menu, which can turn off some diners. And for some brands offering plant-based protein options, that remains the case—those plant-based proteins cost more for operators, and those costs get passed onto diners. Luckily, not all brands supplying plant-based proteins are higher priced. Basic American Foods, for instance, offers plant-based protein crumbles that are priced similarly to animal protein, allowing operators to price their plant-based meals more affordably. And, according to Mintel’s 2019 Plant-Based Protein study, nearly three-fourths of consumers say they would purchase more plant protein at restaurants if it were more affordable. And in fact, though perception may be that plant-based meals cost more than meals with meat, overall, that’s not the case—perhaps thanks to lower-cost proteins helping to balance the scale.
Take a look at the average prices for different types of entrees:
Given these prices, it’s easy to see that offering plant-based choices—so long as they’re made with affordable ingredients—doesn’t necessarily mean that menu items will have to be priced higher to make up the difference.
How to make crowd-pleasing plant-based options
There are a few things to consider when adding plant-based options to the menu. First is flavor. Be sure to keep consumer preferences in mind—global foods are on the rise, but many consumers may prefer to stick to familiar flavors and formats, especially if they’re already stepping outside their comfort zone by ordering a plant-based protein.
Some of the most popular global cuisines are Mexican and Italian, so for operators who want to offer a blend of both exciting and familiar options, these two cuisines are a great place to start. Try using plant protein crumbles as a meat alternative in dishes like tacos or burritos and in place of traditional beef-and-pork bolognese.
Additionally, operators should be sure to offer plant-based dishes all day long. Here are a few ways to incorporate plant-based options across dayparts.
Choosing the right products for the menu
Plant-based proteins aren’t all created equally. Choosing a product that is versatile enough to meet the needs of all dayparts while being delicious enough that customers keep coming back for more is key. Plant protein crumbles from Basic American Foods are available in these delicious flavors—Chorizo, Beef and Southwest Seasoned—making them an easy choice for a vast array of dishes from the morning menu to snacks, entrees and so much more. Best of all, they’re priced similarly to animal proteins, so operators can make these plant-based swaps without worrying about higher food costs.
To learn more about Plant Protein Crumbles from Basic American Foods and to request a sample, click here.
This post is sponsored by Basic American Foods