July, 2019 - Suprising Drivers in the Surge of Plant-Based Burgers in QSRs

According to the NPD Group plant-based burgers at quick-service restaurants (QSR) were up 10% from last year, reaching 228 million servings. The worldwide market research company stated that this growth doesn’t indicate veggie burgers are narrowing the gap on beef burgers or that vegetarian or vegan lifestyles are on the rise.  Instead, they said the strong growth of plant based burgers is primarily due to increased availability at major QSR chains, and in response, traditional burger buyers are giving them a try!

NPD’s CREST service tracks how US consumers use restaurants. The service found that burgers are still the top sandwich ordered, but growth is flat compared to last year. NPD indicated that vegans and vegetarians may contribute to plant-based growth, but they aren’t the primary driver. According to the NPD Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracker, a large portion of the adult population is looking to increase the amount of plant-based foods they consume.

Other experts agree. Investment Firm UBS projects the growth of plant-based proteins and meat alternatives to rise from $4.6 Billion in 2018, to $85 Billion by 2030.  In their report “The Food Revolution: The Future of Food and the Challenges We Face,”  The group cites a growing middle class, and a significant focus on health and wellness will drive this growth. 

In a recent press release, Greg Paul, beverage industry marketing leader at Dupont Nutrition and BioSicence said, “There is a bright immediate future for this megatrend. There are seismic shifts occurring in eating habits globally, creating a scientific market opportunity. Most important our research reveals that for most consumers, this has moved beyond experimentation, into a permanent change brought on by health, lifestyle, and social factors.”

QSRs in the US and Canada are taking notice. Burger King, White Castle, and Red Robin all have burger options from Impossible Burger.  Little Ceaser’s offers an Impossible Supreme Pizza in select US markets. Tim Hortons, TGI Fridays, Del Taco, and many more offer Beyond Meat burgers and breakfast sausages.  Dunkin’ Donuts just this week announced the addition of a meatless sausage breakfast sandwich to their Manhattan stores menu. The faux sausage patty is a blend of pea, mung bean, rice and sunflower proteins.  Additionally, Tim Horton's  recently began testing an "eggless egg," by Just Egg in Canadian markets.  

“Plant-based burgers [and meat alternatives] allow consumers to substitute without sacrifice,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst at the NPD group. “They get the ‘burger’ experience while assuaging their need for more protein and social concerns.” The added convenience of availability at QSRs has proven to be an opportunity that consumers can’t pass up!

Skidmore offers many protein solutions that are ideal for your next innovation in meat alternatives. Contact your Skidmore Representative to learn more!