GlobalData: For restaurants' plant-based menus to succeed, they can't rely on plant-based status alone, but must also perfect high quality, ethical production, sustainable packaging to closely align with preferences of nonmeat eaters/flexitarians globally

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January 27, 2023 (press release) –

Meeting consumer expectations for ethical, ‘green’ offerings while maintaining reasonable costs will be a notable challenge for restaurants in launching vegan menus this year, opines GlobalData. Veganuary has always proved a valuable period for brands to showcase new meat alternative innovations, but this year, it’s the ‘green’ credentials associated with vegan offerings that will reel in the crowd, explains the leading data and analytics company.

Sustainability is key for 33% of consumers* to try plant-based menu items

When it comes to new vegan product launches, leading brands such as McDonald’s have focused on consumer facing aspects like sustainable packaging, while other areas hidden down the supply chain, such as carbon footprints and simplicity of ingredients, have taken a backseat.

Ramsey Baghdadi, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “For a plant-based menu to succeed, it cannot rely on its ‘plant-based’ status alone. It must also perfect associated aspects such as high quality, ethical production, and sustainable packaging to closely align with the preferences of non-meat eaters/flexitarians throughout the globe. While mega-brands like McDonald’s can rely on brand recognition, loyalty, and affordability to entice new customers, independent operators may not have that luxury. Therefore, independents such as Plants by Deliciously Ella, need to look towards high quality, sustainable and local operations that help them to stand out (and justify a higher price point).”

GlobalData’s 2022 Q1 consumer survey shows that, globally, people are more likely to try meat or fish-alternatives based on health (66%)*, sustainability (33%)* and animal-welfare (33%)*, and not just because it tastes good. If these measures are taken to consideration, you’re on your way to having a successful plant-based alternative menu item.

Taste continues to be a pivotal factor for consumers plant-based curiosity

Replicating a meat-like taste is a proven preference among consumers globally. In 2022, almost a third (31%)* of consumers globally claimed that they are likely to try meat or fish-alternatives because of the taste.

Baghdadi continues: “This Veganuary we have seen a wide range of new plant-based options being introduced across the foodservice sector, especially in the UK and US, including the new vegan American Hot pizza from Domino’s, Burger King’s Vegan Royale with Cheeze burger and the Double McPlant burger from McDonald’s which has been vegan-certified. Replicating the same flavor and sense of indulgence is essential for these big named brands, as many consumers are already accustomed to their meat counterparts – making a strong point of comparison.”

Veganism should not be regarded a short-term trend

The plant-based market is maturing, and consumers expect more than a basic ‘mushroom substitute’ when eating out. Foodservice providers must join leading brands in considering long-term strategies for vegan menus. Especially during the cost-of-living crisis, brands should also focus on the affordability of vegan products to boost consumer accessibility.

Baghdadi concludes: “Veganuary is now synonymous with experimental behaviors, as thousands sign up each year to test a flexi or vegan lifestyle for themselves. Naturally, not all participants will fully commit, with February onwards painting a truer success rate for both the participants and brands’ new menus. That said, as of November 2022, a third (34%)** of people globally claim to be vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or have a low meat diet. This alone shows that the market for affordable plant-based meat is out there all year round, it’s not just a January thing.”

-Consumer survey data taken from GlobalData’s 2022 Q1* and Q4** global consumer survey, sample survey respondent size of 21,000

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