The food choices of many Australians are changing as trends indicate an increasing number of people are adopting plant-based diets. In the past few decades, the Australian food scene has witnessed the rise of various food and beverage trends, such as gluten-free, dairy-free and veganism. For those in hospitality, there’s a need to keep a watch on food fads, but even more important is the need to monitor and anticipate shifts in food consumption, such as the growing popularity of plant-based diets.
1 in 4 Australian’s are reducing or excluding animal products from their diet. The most significant among these plant-based customers is the flexitarian who is simply looking for ways to reduce their consumption of meat. Customers seeking plant based meals, be they flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan have a variety of reasons for making their choices which may range from their perceived health benefits, ethical and environmental impact or for religion reasons.
As this trend becomes more mainstream, a growing number of food service establishments will look to enhance their menus to cater to this demand. If you haven’t considered incorporating plant based menu options yet, now is the time to start.
Vegetarians, Vegans and Flexitarians
Before you decide to cater to this trend, it’s important to get an understanding of the key characteristics of the three groups.
Will not eat any food that has been made from or with the aid of animals that have died.
Will not eat any food that has been made from or with the aid of animals irrespective of whether the animal has died or not.
Actively seek to reduce the amount of meat on their plate or the number of meat meals they eat each week. They are not vegetarian!
Where do you pitch your menu
While the fastest growing plant-based segment belongs to the vegan group, it’s the flexitarians who will dominate your customer group looking for alternatives to meat. With such diverse requirements among the plant based customer groups, pitching your menu offerings to the vegan customer means simplification of your back of house processes whilst easily accommodating all three groups with your menu offering.
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Below are the most common profiles of flexitarians that you should be considering when developing you menu.
Direct benefits to operators
As the popularity of plant based eating continues a plant based menu refresh can help distinguish your business in the market by:
1. Driving new customers into the business.
2. Better positioning of business to cater to diverse groups of diners.
3. Being relevant in the restaurant and food space.
Common objections from businesses
While majority of operators are realising the value of changing up their menus, certain hesitations do exist. Given that vegans are a significantly small demographic, does it make financial sense to elevate existing menus to cater to this market? However the alternate perspective is that offering plant-based or vegan items allow operators to cover all bases and also simplify their operations.
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The Food People Menu Analysis Research 2020