- April 9, 2023
- by Melanie Evans
- Consulting, Growth, Innovation
Plant-based foods have seen a significant increase in demand in recent years, with more and more consumers looking for healthier and more sustainable alternatives to traditional animal-based products.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in demand for plant-based foods, in particular in the UK. According to a report by The Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine, the number of vegans in the UK has increased by 350% in the past decade, with an estimated 600,000 people following a vegan diet. In addition, the number of vegetarians in the UK has also increased, with around 1.2 million people identifying as vegetarian.
This trend has led to a growing number of food and beverage companies adding plant-based items to their offerings. In this article, we will explore the reasons why any food and beverage company should consider adding plant-based items to their menu and how they can do so successfully.
One of the most significant reasons why food and beverage companies should consider adding plant-based items to their offerings is the health benefits that they provide. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Additionally, plant-based foods tend to be lower in saturated fat and higher in fibre than animal-based foods, making them a healthier option for consumers.
Another important reason why food and beverage companies should consider adding plant-based items to their menus is sustainability.
Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. By offering plant-based options, companies can help reduce the environmental impact of their menus and contribute to a more sustainable food system.
Meeting Consumer Demand
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in consumer demand for plant-based foods, driven by a number of factors. One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing awareness of the health benefits of plant-based diets.
Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. As a result, many consumers are seeking out plant-based foods as a way to improve their health and wellbeing.
Another driver of the trend towards plant-based foods is concerns around sustainability and the environment. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that animal agriculture has on the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution.
Many consumers are seeking out plant-based alternatives as a way to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable food system.
In addition to health and sustainability concerns, there is also a growing trend towards ethical and humane treatment of animals. Consumers are becoming more aware of the conditions under which animals are raised and slaughtered, and are seeking out alternatives to meat and dairy products as a way to avoid supporting these practices.
The increasing availability and variety of plant-based foods have also contributed to the growth in consumer demand. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of plant-based options available in grocery stores and restaurants, making it easier for consumers to find and purchase these products.
In short, if you don’t offer plant based options, the chances are good that your competitors do, and your target customers may be choosing them over you based solely on that fact.
Additionally, the quality and taste of plant-based foods have improved significantly, making them a more attractive option for consumers.
Plant-based items offer a high degree of flexibility and can be used in a variety of dishes and cuisines. This allows food and beverage companies to create a diverse menu that can appeal to a wide range of tastes and preferences.
Additionally, plant-based items can often be used as a substitute for meat in traditional dishes, making it easier for companies to create vegetarian or vegan versions of popular dishes.
Adding plant-based items to their menus can also help food and beverage companies innovate and differentiate themselves from their competitors. By offering unique and innovative plant-based items, companies can attract attention and generate buzz around their brand. This can help to build brand awareness and loyalty among consumers.
Plant-based items can also be a cost-effective option for food and beverage companies. Plant-based proteins such as lentils, beans, and tofu are often less expensive than animal-based proteins such as meat and dairy.
Additionally, plant-based items may require less energy and resources to produce than animal-based items, making them a more cost-effective option for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact.
Overcoming the Challenges Of Adding Plant Based Items to Your Menus
Adding plant-based items to a menu can present a number of challenges, but there are ways to overcome these challenges and successfully incorporate plant-based options. In this article, we will explore some strategies for overcoming challenges when adding plant-based items to a menu.
Address Cost Concerns
One of the main challenges when adding plant-based items to a menu is cost. To overcome this challenge, food and beverage businesses can focus on making small changes to their menu to incorporate plant-based items without significantly impacting the cost.
For example, businesses can add a few plant-based options at a time and rotate them to keep costs down. Additionally, businesses can focus on using less expensive plant-based ingredients like beans, lentils, and grains, and incorporate them into existing dishes.
Experiment with Taste and Texture
Another challenge when adding plant-based items to a menu is ensuring that the dishes taste and feel satisfying. To overcome this challenge, businesses can experiment with different plant-based ingredients and preparation methods to find options that work well with the flavours and textures of traditional dishes.
For example, businesses can use marinated tofu or seitan as a meat substitute in dishes like stir-fry or tacos, or incorporate roasted vegetables and grains into salads and bowls.
Incorporate a Variety of Plant-based Options
To address limited variety concerns, businesses can incorporate a variety of plant-based options into their menu. This can include options that are vegan, vegetarian, or plant-forward, and can range from appetisers to entrees and desserts. Businesses can also incorporate plant-based options from different cuisines and cultures to add diversity and appeal to different tastes.
Educate and Promote Plant-based Options
Not everyone is embracing the idea of plant based foods and beverages, and some consumers actively dislike the idea, often without ever having tried these alternatives. This can be a valid concern for F&B brands who do not want to alienate existing customers.
To address perception and demand concerns, businesses can educate customers about the benefits of plant-based options, such as their health and environmental benefits, and promote them on the menu and through social media.
In addition to standard social media promotions, by working with influencers, businesses can tap into a wider audience and generate buzz around their plant-based menu options, while also positioning themselves as a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious brand.
This can help customers understand the value of plant-based options and encourage them to try new dishes. Also, businesses can offer taste tests or sampling events to help customers get used to plant-based options and get over any preconceptions they may have.
Address Allergen Concerns
To address allergen concerns, businesses can ensure that their plant-based options are prepared and labelled in a way that is clear and safe for all customers. This can include using separate equipment and preparation areas to prevent cross-contamination and clearly labelling any allergens that may be present in the plant-based options.
Get Professional Advice
Working with a food and beverage consultant can provide businesses with the expertise and guidance needed to successfully add plant-based items to a menu.
From menu development and optimization to cost and profitability analysis, training and education, sustainability, and social responsibility, a consultant can provide valuable insights and recommendations that help businesses create appealing and profitable plant-based menu options.
There is an important additional advantage when you choose to work with Pearl Lemon Consulting. Our food and beverage consulting team offers advice based not on theory or general best practices but on real-world experience.
One of the newer, but rapidly growing, companies in the Pearl Lemon Group to which we belong is Plant Sumo, a London-based UK vegan meal prep service that delivers innovative, exciting, and flavorful plant-based meals. Their offerings are also increasingly included in Pearl Lemon Catering menus and offered at Pearl Lemon Cafe.
Our food and beverage consulting team is directly aided by those who run those businesses on a daily basis, and their input is invaluable, as our previous clients can tell you.
As the demand for plant-based food options continues to grow, it’s important for food and beverage businesses to stay ahead of the curve and offer innovative and appealing plant-based options.
Working with a food and beverage consultant can provide businesses with the expertise and guidance they need to successfully incorporate plant-based options into their menus and operations. At Pearl Lemon Consultants, our team of experienced consultants can provide customised solutions for businesses of all sizes, from menu development and optimization to sustainability and social responsibility practices.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our team can help your food and beverage business succeed in the plant-based food market, contact us today for a consultation. Let us help you take your plant-based menu to the next level!