According to Datassential’s 2022 Plant-Based Opportunity report, 29 percent of the U.S. population limits their meat consumption, and half of consumers think plant-based foods are better for the environment. But one very significant barrier continues to limit many consumers’ desire to experiment with plant-based substitutes: taste.
“At the end of the day, consumers are looking for products that taste great,” says Kyle Flottman, brand manager at Burke Corporation. “They want applications that satisfy their needs for conscious, flexible, and unique options.”
BURKE® Alternatives, a line of plant-based toppings made primarily from pea protein, is winning skeptics over—one delicious bite at a time. Read on to learn how restaurant operators can entice health and environmentally conscious diners by incorporating menu items with plant-based ingredients.
Some consumers may feel limited by the “all or nothing” approach taken by many restaurants in terms of plant-based options. Plant-based foods aren’t just for vegans or vegetarians: According to The Food Institute, about 15 percent of the U.S. population lives a flexitarian lifestyle, while vegans and vegetarians account for only 11 percent combined. And those numbers combined don’t account for the increasing number of daily meat eaters who are interested in plant-based foods.
“More consumers are open to trying dishes with both animal and plant proteins,” says Jamie Reynolds, marketing manager at Burke Corporation. “Daily meat eaters are even more likely to be open to trying these dishes, which indicates that mixing plant- and meat-based proteins could be key to engaging consumers.”
The BURKE® Alternatives plant-based toppings line consists of five formats: Plant-Based Crumbles, Plant-Based Italian-Style Crumbles, Plant-Based Chorizo-Style Crumbles, Plant-Based Pepperoni-Style Crumbles, and Plant-Based Pepperoni Style Topping.
This diversity of flavor profiles places Burke products apart and opens up opportunities for menu innovation in all dayparts. Think soups, salads, pasta sauces and even nachos. But to reiterate: Operators need products that taste great, or consumers won’t make repeat trips for the same items.
“Plant-based used to only be widely available in the form of burgers, but we’ve seen our BURKE® Alternatives line used in a wide variety of applications—from street tacos to bowls, breakfast skillets, pizza, and more,” Flottman says. “Our plant-based alternatives have the look and texture of the meat products that customers are accustomed to.”
Datassential’s report found that one in five consumers prefer to shop at environmentally conscious retail brands, and more consumers are open to trying environmentally conscious restaurants. Nearly three out of four consumers are at least open to trying plant-based food.
Restaurants that are looking for plant-based options to add to existing applications are the prime candidate for BURKE® Alternatives. “Many operators are discovering how easy it is to swap plant-based meat for animal protein in an existing recipe,” Reynolds says. “It really opens up their menu, while still maintaining the integrity of the brand.”
Another benefit of the BURKE® Alternatives is that, with the exception of the plant-based pepperoni-style topping, they are soy-free with no allergens. “The number one thing that sets us apart is that our plant-based offerings contain no allergens,” Flottman says. “This allows operators to open up their plant-based applications to customers who suffer from food allergies—roughly 26 million adults in the U.S. alone.”
By adding these plant-based applications, restaurant operators can provide a diverse and flexible menu that meets changing customer needs.
On the purely practical side, BURKE® Alternatives products provide cost savings in the form of consistency, convenience, and product stability, which creates less waste. Additionally, operators can avoid microbial dangers and cross-contamination issues associated with uncooked products. The crumbles are easy to use and require no additional training, personnel, or equipment in the kitchen.
Plant-based continues to be one of the fastest-growing trends in the quick-service sector. More and more consumers are seeking out plant-based alternatives to satisfy their needs for conscious and flexible meal options. Operators looking to learn more about incorporating plant-based menu items can look to Burke for guidance and suggestions.
“We have an experienced and innovative R&D team that can work with you to formulate the perfect protein for your application,” Reynolds says.
To learn more, visit the Burke Corporation website.