A Veggie Shift in Prepared Foods?

May 04, 2012

Catering to the meat free population seems fairly simple. But what do they really desire? Find out how to attract the meat free to your store.

With more and more consumers turning towards a less meat-centric diet, approximately 30 to 40 percent of the US population, should prepared foods shift in their offerings?

While the vegan (about 1 million) and vegetarian (about 7 million) populations still only account for just under five percent of the US population (a number that has seen huge growth in the past 2-3 years), their choices and desires when eating out may help direct the industry.

So what exactly is this population eating when they choose to eschew the animal products - will it be a soy burger or a lentil salad?

According to a recent survey by the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) and Harris Interactive, those interested in laying off the animal products are focused on eating more greens. Approximately 75 percent of respondents said that when looking for a vegetarian product, they would purchase a meal containing leafy greens such as broccoli, kale or collards. Most eaters in this group are not interested in processed vegetarian/vegan meat imitations, so for the prepared foods section, think greens and healthy hearty salads vs. soy dogs, burgers, and other meat analogues.

Take the veggie burger to the next level and offer other sandwich options. Nearly half of all respondents indicated that they would purchase a vegetarian or vegan deli sandwich in a national sandwich chain. As the VRG points out, most chains and restaurants have added vegetarian burgers, but adding more meatless options is definitely desired.

Clearly the meat free population is significant, including those keeping kosher or halal who sometimes choose vegetarian products, as well as those concerned with the environment and their wallets! Catering to the ever changing and evolving American diet by promoting more meatless options is a great place to start. Creating displays or even promotions with vegetarian products will attract customer’s attention – and even for omnivores, including more plant-based items in their diet will only benefit their health.