The people want their plants: such is the conclusion of a new study, done by research firm Datassential. The survey shows that consumers are looking to reduce animal protein consumption, and aren’t necessarily finding enough options when eating out.
Titled “Shifting the Protein Focus,” the team surveyed 634 operators (those in restaurants and food service) and 1,013 consumers in order to measure the demand/supply of animal proteins.
Among other findings, the research found that consumers want more plant-based items, with meat offered as a condiment instead of a main ingredient.
For example, 83 percent of consumers surveyed are seeking whole grains, while only 47 percent of operators are offering them as ingredients; 82 percent are seeking nuts, while only 44 percent of operators are offering them; and 80 percent are seeking legumes, while only 54 percent of operators are offering them.
“Consumer interest in and demand for alternative protein sources appears to be outpacing operator activity,” it concludes, and unfortunately, many restaurants look to be moving in the opposite direction, mainly due to concerns that consumers won’t react well to menu changes. “In fact, more operators report they are likely to drop these types of items from their menu than will add/ increase the use of over the next two years,” the report states. “This could result in a significant demand/ supply gap.”
Apparently, communication is key, and the success of new menu items is closely tied to properly conveying the changes to consumers.
Interestingly, consumers surveyed also said they are most likely to order dishes that are primarily produce-based during a casual lunch, a casual dinner or a family meal.
You can read more about the results of the study in Datassential’s full report.