How to grow your operation for plant-based success

Meat alternatives are officially the best thing since sliced bread. No longer just for foodies and vegetarians, products from companies like Beyond Meats and Impossible Foods now appear in grocery stores and menus all over the country. In fact, the global plant-based meat market was valued at $8.5 billion in 2021, and is expected to hit $34 billion by 2027

Plant-based appeals to every generation

While it’s easy to assume that plant-based analogs are just for younger, more-veggie focused diners, the facts say otherwise. Alternative proteins are made for people of all ages. See for yourself who’s craving what:

Seniors are experimenting

More than half of adults 65 and older who have tried plant-based meat say they are likely to try it again. Workplaces, healthcare institutions and senior living facilities can take special note of this shifting attitude toward plant-based diets.

Millennial meat matters

More than half of this group considers themselves to be “flexitarian” and are eating plant-based proteins for health reasons, while not giving up meat and dairy altogether. And since Millennials are a significant proportion of repeat customers for online ordering and delivery services, it’s important for menu developers in restaurants and large-scale dining operations to recognize and cater to their tastes.

Gen Z is on board

65 percent of Gen Zers say they prefer a “plant-forward” diet and more than 75 percent go meatless several times each week. When it comes to satiating the palates of this veg-centric generation, major food providers are working overtime to develop a wide array of dishes – and even entire plant-based food halls – at educational institutions.

Generational preferences at a glance

• More than half of adults 65+ who have tried plant-based meat say they are likely to try it again
More than half of millennials consider themselves to be “flexitarian” and are eating plant-based proteins for health reasons
• 65 percent of Gen Zers say they prefer a “plant-forward” diet
• 75 percent of Gen Zers go meatless several times each week

Adding plant-based meat to your menu

At the end of the day, the emergence and staying power of plant-based proteins can’t be discounted. Luckily, you don’t have to change that much to set yourself up for plant-based success either.

Embrace your fear

It’s perfectly normal to be wary of new ingredients, particularly when the price point of plant-based protein is greater than many land- or sea-based options. Lean into the challenge through experimentation and menu testing.

Use what you’ve got

​​While alternative proteins have different cooking requirements than traditional meats, they don’t require additional equipment. Try using the following:

  • Mixers to whip up egg-free peanut butter cookies.
  • Grills can make delicious veggie kabobs.
  • Food processors are great for making spreads, hummus or plant-based cheese.
  • Combi-ovens keep plant-based proteins and roasted veggies moist.
  • Fryers can help quickly deliver an array of apps and snacks, from zucchini fries to vegan wings.

Prepare for food prep

Consider these as you begin putting more plant-based options on your menu:

  • In-house prep of whole foods like fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables require more labor and impact staff costs and scheduling.
  • Storage containers with wicking elements can help keep moisture away from delicate fruits and vegetables.
  • Plant-based proteins don’t require freezing, so they’re always ready to cook. This cuts down on cook time, but can put pressure on already-limited fridge space.

Learn more about these solutions – and how to add them to your operation – at The NAFEM Show 2023. It’s the one place where you’ll have access to the industry’s leading equipment and supplies manufacturers. Register to attend Feb. 1 – 3, 2023, at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla., USA.

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