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State of the Market

Driving Sales of
Plant-Based Menu
Items by Tapping into
the Hottest Food Trends

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OVERVIEW

Plant-based options are a must for operators who want to attract today’s consumers who are seeking better-for-you foods, and for the hottest new flavors. Savvy operators know that the way to answer both these demands is to offer items that emphasize fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Consumers are looking for these colorful, better-for-you foods on menus at establishments ranging from fast food to fine dining to on-site cafeterias. Even omnivores who eat meat are looking for variety, and operators are finding ways to appeal to these diners.

Informa Engage and Bush’s Best conducted a survey to gain insight into food service operators’ approach to menuing plant-based foods. Respondents said they are aware that plant-focused dining is booming, and they are increasing their offerings of plant-based menu items. The foods reflect not only the plant-forward trend but also demands for global foods and hot new flavors.

AMONG THE KEY FINDINGS

A large majority of operators offer vegetarian, vegan, plant-based and meatless items.

Operators create both their own plant-based items and also use manufactured ones, and versatility of ingredients is important when selecting manufactured items.

The demand for better-for-you foods is the biggest driver of these sales, according to operators, and they define better-for-you in several ways, including low-calorie, low-sodium, and low-fat.

Food service establishments are adding to menus not only plant-based foods but also blended foods that combine meat and recognizable, wholesome ingredients such as beans.

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