Greater demand for value offerings sees plant-based diners shift away branded meat alternatives

By Hannah Currie

- Last updated on GMT

Greater demand for value offerings sees plant-based diners shift away branded meat alternatives

Related tags Plant-based Fast food Vegan QSR Vegetarian cuisine

Plant-based consumers are increasingly value led when eating out, according to data from Lumina Intelligence.

Psychographic data collected from its latest Eating and Drinking Out Panel shows that vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians are all putting an increased emphasis on value compared to last year, as cost-of-living pressures continue to affect consumer choices.

This is leading to a greater demand for value offerings and a shift away from more expensive branded meat alternatives.

Nearly one third of consumers (30.1%) surveyed stated that they follow a flexitarian diet, although this figure has stabilised after peaking in 2022. This was paired with a rise in health and wellness interest amongst consumers with 42% considered to be very health conscious.

Flexitarians were more health led on average, demonstrating the importance of plant-based options to meet the growing demand for health across the market.

However, Lumina notes a drop in those following a vegetarian and vegan diet compared to last year, representing 5.9% and 0.9% respectively.

This was largely driven by a younger demographic dropping out of the market, due to the cost-of-living crisis, whilst older consumers returned post-Covid.

Occasions where consumers purchased plant-based products as a share of the total market has remained stable throughout the year, with an average of 1% total occasions.

Meat occasions on the other hand were more varied throughout the year, with higher prices causing more volatility as consumers adapt to cost-of-living changes.

The flexitarian market has shifted with the biggest over index over 65s, whilst consumers aged 25-34 dropped out of the market. Despite growth in the more affluence ABC1 demographic, consumer choices in this category have shifted away from being quality led, towards being value led.

Similarly, the vegetarian market saw an increase in 55-64 year olds and decrease in 35- 44 year olds.

In this category the social grade also changed with less affluent consumers increasing, alongside value led alignment compared to quality led decisions. The vegan market echoed these changes with growth in C2DE grade consumers, and an increased focus on value.

Operators appear to have adapted to the plant-based agenda, with Lumina’s Menu Tracker data showing that restaurants are the furthest ahead with the most plant-based on menus compared to the rest of the market including QSR, pubs and bars.

Lumina notes a decline in vegan and vegetarian dishes on pub and bar menus, driven by the channel’s key younger demographic not able to afford to eat out as much as they used to. QSR is the market leader for alternative meat purchases with a high demand for plant-based classics like burgers.

The Menu Tracker reveals that 62% of plant-based burgers on menus are meat mimics, compared to 37% vegetable based.

Meat mimics are more lucrative to operators than vegetable based burgers, Lumina adds, commanding a higher spend than both vegetable based burgers and burgers across the overall market.

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