Customers Want Plant Based Options

The Lempert Report
August 14, 2015

Increasingly customers are seeking out healthy plant based food options, how can supermarkets support this trend?

From Beyond Meat to Impossible Foods, there are a growing number of companies creating plant based options as a substitute for meat.  And a new study supports the idea that increasingly consumers are actually seeking out these alternative options and new proteins. 

According to a report from the market research firm Datassential, and sponsored by  The Culinary Institute of America,  called “Shifting the Protein Focus,” customers want reduced animal protein portions—or alternative protein sources—more than operators are providing them. The study surveyed 634 operators and 1,013 consumers. In an article from   New Hope 360, Maeve Webster, Datassential senior director, is quoted as saying, “Consumers have definitely started looking for alternatives, whether it's on a regular basis or a limited basis like Meatless Monday.  Operators have been slower to keep up with the changes in consumer behavior.”

When it comes to menu changes in restaurants, 75% surveyed responded well to the idea of “Blending ground meat/ plant-based ingredients”, 53% with “Reducing animal protein focused entrées” and 50% responded well to menus “Adding/replacing meat options with non-meat options.” 

So while it seems that there’s a huge opportunity to expand alternative protein options, if operators are indeed, as the report suggests, being slow to respond, supermarkets should be picking up the slack. Supermarkets should create themed displays, such as Meatless Monday, which offer vegetarian meal options, plant based brands and alternative protein sources. Offer tips and recipe suggestions in the produce section highlighting how busy shoppers can create simple yet nutritious meal ideas using veggies. Offer deals and coupons on brands that use plant based options, and increase prepared food options to include plant based meal options. Remind consumers that there’s no need to wait for foodservice operators to catch up when everything they want can come from their local supermarket!