Over the course of the next year, plant-based menu options are set to increase by over 400%1, signalling an emerging shift in the foodservice industry. With 23% of UK consumers identifying as flexitarian2 (primarily eating plant-based with occasional inclusion of meat), and 40% of British consumers demanding plant-based options3, the market for plant-based alternatives continues to grow. And with conversations about the planet only intensifying, it doesn’t stop there. Consumers are also looking for sustainable alternatives to mainstream foods.

As a leading food and drink agency with nearly 40 years in foodservice, we recognise that these eating out of home trends are not just fads, but represent how consumers are choosing to dine more generally and are therefore a good indicator of how brands should be operating in the food industry. In this blog, we’ll discuss the roles of sustainable and plant-based eating and what it means specifically for foodservice and hospitality.

The Shifting Landscape of Foodservice

The foodservice market is always evolving, and the role of technology is helping to reshape the industry. With technological advances, brands can create healthier and innovative meat-free choices and ultimately offer a wider range of choice to consumers.

For example, this year at the Casual Dining show, La Vie launched its brand-new plant-based ham – using a new patented technology that recreates the texture of animal fat using plants. Brands such as The Vegetarian Butcher have been looking into similar technology, as well as a number of start-ups which are using precision fermentation to create animal-free fats4. These advancements are not only meeting the demand from consumers but redefining and reshaping menus.

On the menu

As consumer preferences shift towards healthier, meat-free options, the desire for transparency and sustainable practices shifts too. This has created a change in the way that foodservice businesses operate in order to respond to consumer demands. We’re not only seeing an increase in vegan restaurants popping up, but also a shift with chain restaurants, such as KFC and Burger King, looking for plant-based alternatives and seeking out more sustainable options for meat and meat-free alike.

Now, more than ever, is the time for meat-free brands to get involved in the plant-based and sustainable food trends to help promote their business.

PR Strategies for Foodservice

With the ever-evolving plant-based world growing year-on-year, it’s so important for brands to get their marketing right. To succeed in the foodservice world, brands need to adopt an honest and transparent storytelling approach showing their commitment to sustainability and plant-based solutions that will also resonate with chefs and buyers.

Keeping an eye on the latest industry trends and consumer preferences can provide valuable insight and help brands to tailor their offer. Our own jellybean SENSE social listening service has revealed that ‘chefs still feel that there is a lack of innovation when it comes to vegan and vegetarian options, especially in the public sector’. By keeping up to date with the latest insight, brands can build an effective strategy and ensure they are targeting the right audience.

If you’re looking for the latest insight or need help with marketing to propel your plant-based brand to new heights, get in touch with us today @jellybeanagency.

1Plant Based Food Association – Plant-Based State of the Marketplace – Foodservice [July 2023]

2Smart Protein Project, 2021

3Vegconomist – UK Vegan Food Market Grows 9.58%

4Food Matters Live