Home Blog 2019 Is Plant-based the Sensible Way to Indulge? | Darren Seifer Blog
Jun 6, 2019

Is Plant-based the Sensible Way to Indulge?

Subscribe to our blog

Plant-based foods are the hot topic in the food and beverage industry. It’s nearly impossible to avoid hearing about these foods in the media as innovative products are introduced each year. Long gone are the days when these products were relegated to vegans and vegetarians and often criticized for their taste. One thing is clear as meat-eaters start adopting plant-based foods – they’re not abandoning meat. What’s behind the new acceptance among omnivores?

First and foremost, taste is king in this industry. Attributes such as health and convenience go far to drive consumption, but if the flavor profile falls below consumers’ expectations, then the product will likely have a short run. Traditional veggie burgers did not taste like meat and didn’t attract meat-loving burger consumers until companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat discovered how to make vegetables reproduce the meat-eating experience. Now there is no compromise when choosing a vegetable-based burger.

It doesn’t stop there. Looking at the evolution of snack foods, we see the merging of sensibility and indulgence. Our Future of Snacking report analyzes the motivations driving snack food consumption from the past and present and uses those trends to forecast future motivations. Two prevailing macro needs that will drive snack food consumption in the coming years will be health and treating/rewarding oneself. Products delivering on both at the same time are poised to grow.

It’s possible we’re seeing the same merging of needs when it comes to plant-based foods. Looking specifically at burgers, plant-based versions provide the same “burger experience,” but restaurant orders of plant-based burgers are rarely tied to health. Consumers can use these burgers to assuage concerns about animal welfare, environmental sustainability, nutrition, and more. At the same time, they’re eating a product with a flavor profile that delivers on their expectations. It’s a conscience-satisfying choice with the “treat” experience of eating a burger.

The plant-based burger seems to be picking up steam. SupplyTrack®, which tracks the sale of foods and beverages through broadline distributors to restaurants, shows a nearly 30 percent increase in plant-based burger sales in 2018. Servings of veggie burgers ordered at U.S. restaurants reached 342 million in the year ending March 2019, an 8 percent increase from year ago, shown by our foodservice consumer tracker, CREST®. With large chains like Burger King and White Castle now offering their own plant-based burgers, it’s safe to say this has become mainstream.

It’s worth noting that plant-based foods are no longer just about almond milk and veggie burgers. Across categories such as yogurt, cheese, snack foods, and other milk varieties, plant-based foods are making inroads. This could not have happened until the plant-based alternatives were able to deliver on flavor.

We’re monitoring U.S. consumers’ use of plant-based foods both in-home and away. Contact darren.seifer@npd.com to learn more.

Stay current in your industry

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Food Consumption

Holiday Meals Aren’t Just for Meat Eaters
Holiday Meals Aren’t Just for Meat Eaters

A vegetarian tests a meatless loaf on his meat-eating family and it meets with their approval… and requests for second helpings.

Food and Beverage Trends to Watch in 2020
Food and Beverage Trends to Watch in 2020

In 2020, NPD Food Analyst, Darren Seifer, predicts tailwinds behind the plant-based food movement, food as medicine, the morning meal focus, and sustainability.

Breakfast in Bed – At Night?
Breakfast in Bed – At Night?

New food trends research shows that there is a changing consumer mindset of what constitutes a breakfast food, and traditional breakfast foods are now being eaten throughout the day.

Are Consumers Walking the Sustainability Talk?
Are Consumers Walking the Sustainability Talk?

The sustainability issue is now front and center and although adoption may be slow, it’s top of mind with consumers and change is beginning to happen, but there still is a long way to go in terms of mass consumer adoption of sustainability efforts.


Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice. | Cookie Settings

Follow Us

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.