We are talking about burgers this month with one important caveat: no beef included. We mentioned this in last week’s blog post, but it’s worth repeating—non-beef proteins have skyrocketed to the tune of 908% in the last 4 years, while beef burgers have only grown 1%. Even more, ingredients like beets (+300.0%), black beans (+23.2%), quinoa (+54.5%), and salmon (+15.8%) have experienced double digit growth, according to Datassential, as flexitarians seek the bite of a burger, without the weight of the red meat.
To call this a trend would be the understatement of 2019. It’s a straight-up movement with plenty of evidence to remind us just how mainstream meatless burgers have become. Two-thirds of consumers consider vegetarian offerings to be healthier, according to Technomic, and a quarter of them order more healthy items when dining out. And, to top it off, 23% of consumers say they would consider ordering plant-based burgers, with 29% of 18-34-year-olds agreeing. With more options popping up daily, the needs of this crowd are most certainly being fulfilled.
It would be quite difficult to name all of the restaurants that are jumping on the meatless burger train. There are plenty, to be sure, with every segment of foodservice represented and certainly all sizes. Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill, for instance, kicked off the year with a Vegan-Friendly Beyond Meat Burger and Burger King just announced that the Impossible Whopper will be available system-wide. University of Michigan Dining recently implemented Sustainable Mondays, removing all animal proteins from menus on Mondays to encourage more trial of plant-based protein and vegetables. According to the team there, there isn’t a lot of people complaining about missing meat.
Plant-based protein isn’t limited to burgers alone. Quesada Burritos & Tacos, a Mexican chain located in Canada, saw the trend and partnered with Beyond Meat to bring a Burrito made with Beyond Meat’s Feisty Crumbles. Their signature recipe combines a blend of Mexican flavors with the heat of habanero pepper and can be customized with a mix of options, including homemade Mexican slaw, guacamole and made-fresh-daily Mexican salsas. Paramount Middle Eastern Kitchen, another Canadian chain, has introduced plant-based “chicken” to their menu with the flexibility to add wherever you’d like—on hummus, on a salad, as an entrée, or in a wrap. And Mucho Burrito Fresh Mexican Grill offers the flexibility to add Beyond Meat® Power Protein to their lineup of offerings.
What do burritos and shawarma have to do with burgers, you might ask? It’s another way that plant-based proteins are filling menus, building trust, and introducing guests to the alternate protein. If you can get it in a burrito bowl, in a wrap, or on a salad, it may be just as delightful when you discover that a burger is as good a spot as any. And according to Technomic, more than 20% of consumers would like the option to substitute non-meat protein where they might typically find animal protein. Being able to offer the option across the menu delivers against this desire and may offer an incremental lift in exchange.
If you’re thinking about offering a version of your own, we have some ideas. This Moroccan Black Bean Burger is a favorite, especially topped with Harissa Mayo. Or really, pick any burger (we have plenty) and sub out the protein. Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, or a housemade patty of beans or grains will all work. We really love the ingredients in our take on a Crab Burger or the depth found in this Bourbon & Caramelized Onion Bacon Burger. Play with them a bit and find what works best for you.
If you need more ideas, you can always find us at email@example.com or scrolling and sharing on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, too. We also just shared a bunch of new ideas inspired by this very topic.
Check it out!
Manager, Insight & Communication
Custom Culinary, Inc.