It’s no secret that plant-based meat has become one of the food industry’s biggest trends. Restaurant Business Online reported that plant-based proteins will grow 35% on menus by 2022(opens in a new tab) and that 30% of customers surveyed would switch restaurant brands to satisfy their taste for plant-based meat alternatives. Delivery platforms like Grubhub are also seeing a massive increase in popularity, with the terms ‘plant-based burger’ and ‘plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich’ increasing in popularity by up to 291% YoY.(opens in a new tab)
Whether you’re a chef looking to add diversity to your menu or a restaurant owner who wants to bring more customers to your door, meat alternatives on the menu can help you achieve your goals. We know you want to choose the best option that will satisfy your current customers, attract new demand and be good for your bottom line, but not all plant-based meat is created equal.
The main differences in plant-based meat are:
Texture & performance in various cooking methods
Ease of use in current recipes
Brand power with consumers
We’re going to go over each in this blog so you can make the best decision as to which plant-based meat is best for your restaurant.
There are 2 types of plant-based proteins on the market: those that taste like meat, and those that don’t.
Impossible™ Burger cooks and tastes like ground beef* and is made for people who like eating meat
Products like the Impossible Burger and Impossible™ Sausage Made From Plants have become a global sensation because of their delicious taste and performance. We make our products for everyone: vegetarians, vegans and people who like eating meat. This is important because according to the Good Food Institute:(opens in a new tab)
98% of consumers who buy plant-based meat also purchase conventional meat.
If your customers crave plant-based products that don’t taste like ground meat, products that use whole food ingredients like quinoa, beets and carrots are a good option.
For more information on plant-based burgers, check out this article written by the NY Times(opens in a new tab) comparing 6 different burgers. (Want the Cliff notes version? Impossible Burger is the #1 burger of choice).
2. Texture & performance in a variety of cooking methods
When customers ask about texture, they’re referring to how the consistency of the plant-based meat compares to meat from animals. Does it have that satisfying and chewy mouthfeel, or does it crumble apart in your mouth on the first bite? Will it bleed like meat, or is it a bit drier with chunks of vegetables and beans throughout?
Chef Craig Wong of Patois remarked, "Nobody will miss the beef, the Impossible Burger is delicious. It's just a damn tasty burger! I loved that Impossible [Burger] can be seared on the outside with a rosie juicy inside, just like a medium cooked beef burger." Many chefs echo his sentiments, including Traci Des Jardins who called Impossible Burger ‘the most revolutionary product I have encountered in 35 years of cooking.’
This is an important consideration to keep in mind, especially when it comes to the types of foods you are preparing. If you are seeking to add a burger or sandwich to your menu, you will want a plant-based protein that can hold its texture after sauteeing or grilling. If you want to add the protein to a dish that requires simmering, braising or use in fillings/sauces, make sure to pick a protein that can stand up to the challenge.
Impossible™ meat performs fabulously in any dish, from burgers and sandwiches to chilis, lasagna, tacos...the list is endless.
3. Ease of use in current menu items
One of the first questions Foodservice Operators ask when considering plant-based options is ‘How will it fit in my menu?’ Ease of use is a critical factor in determining menu builds, and that’s why chefs love Impossible Burger and Impossible Sausage.
Chef and New York Times food writer J. Kenji López-Alt recently declared modern plant-based meat products "among the most important technological leaps(opens in a new tab)" that he has witnessed in his career. Chef Mimi reported(opens in a new tab) “[Impossible Meat] handles like the most impressive product I’ve ever worked with. It has no shrinkage. It has juiciness. It has everything that you want in a meal. It is definitely the star of the show.”
QSRs like Jamba Juice, Johnny Rocket, White Castle and Burger King are also fans of Impossible™ products because of how easy they are to work with. Because our products cook and taste like their animal counterparts, they are ridiculously easy to add to current menu items with no extra work or prep involved. Impossible Sausage even comes in pre-cooked and pre seasoned patties, and are a hit on breakfast menus because they drive demand and impressive performance.(opens in a new tab)
Impossible Breakfast Handwich, Jamba Juice Website(opens in a new tab)
We can’t speak to the ease of use of other plant-based proteins. What we can say is that because they aren’t made to be a direct substitute for ground meat, there will be modifications if you are seeking to incorporate them into dishes that currently call for meat. However if you want to add them to salads or are comfortable preparing them with special handling, they can be an exciting item to add to the menu.
4. Brand power with consumers
While taste, texture and performance are important factors to consider when adding a plant-based option to the menu, brand recognition is also crucial. As more plant-based meat providers appear in the market, consumers are becoming more savvy to the differences and demand quality.
Impossible Burger’s brand power drives purchase, especially among consumers age 35 and under(opens in a new tab). Gen Z and Millenials love the Impossible Burger and Impossible Sausage, and actively seek them out. While 18 - 34 year olds make up 30% of the total US general population, 42% of Impossible eaters fall between the ages of 18 and 34.
Impossible Burger is the #1 preferred choice amongst teens, and is the only branded item in Yelp’s Most Mentioned Phrases List since 2010.
Impossible products are a hit with Millennials and Gen Z
Impossible Burger has been referenced in iconic television shows like SNL and The Daily Show. It is also the only branded item on Yelp’s Most Mentioned Words and Phrases List(opens in a new tab) since 2010. Offering Impossible products is an opportunity to create a menu that appeals to existing customers while drawing in their children and grandchildren for multigenerational dining experiences.
Restaurant operators and retailers have an increasingly good reason to offer animal-meat alternatives because they are a proven business driver. Restaurants who sell Impossible products report up to a 36% MoM increase in same-store sales after adding Impossible Burger to the menu.
Adding Impossible products to the menu also increases brand perception, traffic and repeat sales, with customers who purchased Impossible Burger at restaurants reporting:
52% think adding Impossible products to the menu would improve the overall perception of the restaurant
55% would visit the restaurant just to order the Impossible Burger
70% of those who purchased an Impossible product in the past 6 months have come back to purchase again
Consumers purchase products that align with both their taste preferences and their values. Incorporating plant-based meat into the menu in familiar and fresh ways is one way restaurants can address shifting consumer demands. Serving delicious products that consumers love and are searching out makes all the difference.
No matter which provider you choose, taste drives repeat orders, so choosing a product that satisfies cravings is incredibly important.
*In a home usage study, 70% of 254 US consumers who cooked with Impossible™ Burger thought the taste was comparable to or better than ground beef from cows