So you’re thinking about adding plant-based meat to your menu. Fantastic! Now is the best time because every day, consumers are actively seeking them out (to the tune of $7B dollars a year(opens in a new tab)). The top reasons consumers choose meat made from plants include health, sustainability and cultural relevance. The #1 reason? Taste of course.
As a food service provider, you want to create amazing dishes that satisfy your customers’ cravings, represent your brand and bring in new demographics. Luckily for you, introducing a plant-based menu item is much easier than you would think. To help you on your journey, we’re sharing all of our tips for launching a new plant-based menu item, from ideation to preparation & promotion.
1. Identify popular menu items that would work well with plant-based meat
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when launching a new plant-based menu item -- start with your best sellers. If you’re not sure what those are, survey customers to get their feedback or create a poll on your social channels to generate buzz and excitement.
Appetizers are an easy way to see how your customers respond to plant-based menu items. Limited Time Offers and Specials are another great way to gauge customer interest. Our partners have found success with hits like burgers, pizza, sliders, breakfast sandwiches, burritos, nachos, salads...the possibilities are endless!
The most important element for a successful launch? Incorporating your unique cooking style and flavors into your new dish. Lead with what you’re known for and replicate the elements that your customers love.
2. Choose a plant-based meat that works for your menu (and your customers' preferences!)
The world of plant-based meat is big and growing every day. There are dozens of providers on the market, all with different flavor profiles, textures and benefits. Some are full of vegetables, beans and rice, and taste more like the healthy veggie burgers we’ve all grown up with. Others use soy and pea protein to replicate the taste and texture of animal-derived meat, which is especially appealing to consumers who don’t identify as vegan or vegetarian.
Over 90% of consumers who eat Impossible™ Burger and Impossible™ Sausage Made From Plants identify as meat eaters, so we developed our products to cook and taste like animal-derived meat. Here's how chefs and consumers feel about our meaty meat made from plants:
“The Impossible Burger really blew me away with how it looks like meat, smells like meat. As far as I'm concerned, it’s meat.”
- Chef Steve Banbury, Hopdoddy
"Nobody will miss the beef, the Impossible Burger is delicious! It's just a damn tasty burger! I loved that Impossible can be seared on the outside with a rosie juicy inside, just like a medium cooked beef burger"
-Chef Craig Wong, Pastis
“My daughter was convinced it [Impossible Burger] was a real ground beef patty, slipped in to confuse us.”
“If you wouldn't have told me this was a plant based burger, I would have 100% believed it was beef.”
Jen Scheer, Director of Marketing at Rubio’s Coastal Grill, said the team surveyed guests (opens in a new tab)to find out what their preferences were, as well as how they feel about Impossible™ products versus other brands. The results? “Impossible [products] rose to the top for purchase interest.” Operationally, they also saw a huge benefit to using Impossible Burger because of its versatility, taste, high yield, and long shelf life.
Before picking a plant-based meat provider, ask yourself if you want a substitute that directly replaces meat, or if you want an alternative that has a less meat-like consistency. If you want a deeper dive in the differences between plant-based meats, here is an excellent article for further reading(opens in a new tab).
Key Takeaway? Know your audience and pick an option that will satisfy their tastes.
3. Train your staff and promote in-store
Once you’ve created a menu item that guests are sure to love, make sure that your staff knows how to talk about it. We created a blog that highlights customers’ top questions(opens in a new tab) about Impossible Burger, and we also have Front of House training tools(opens in a new tab) in our Foodservice Hub.
In-store promotional materials are excellent tools to spread the word as well. We’ve created toothpick flags, posters, table tents and more in our Food Service Store(opens in a new tab) to help you advertise your Impossible™ menu items. Check them out to see what would fit well in your location -- for free!
Whether you choose to serve Impossible products or not, the most important items to include in your menu launch are:
Talking points for your staff
Call out the items in your menu
Add the new items to your online channels (Yelp, DoorDash, GrubHub, Google, etc)
Key takeaway: Plant-based dishes don’t sell themselves. Give your guests the opportunity to fall in love with your new menu creation by talking about them as much as possible.
4. Spread the word online
Once you’ve officially launched your new menu item, take the news of your launch to the (virtual) streets. 85°C Bakery Cafe leveraged Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (opens in a new tab)to drive awareness of their launch. Digital coupons, ads and influencers are also great channels to use if you have the budget.
Other fun ideas include direct mail, third party partnerships, email blasts and website takeovers. Hashtags like #ImpossibleBurger or #MeatGoalsMonday are another great way to find new customers (and help them find you!).
#ImpossibleBurger and #ImpossibleSausage have been used 116,000 times on Instagram and are a great way to promote your Impossible menu items.
Contests and promotions are a great way to generate buzz on social media. You can also take photos of your new menu items and ask your customers to share on their channels, or tag a friend who might want to give it a try.
You can also tag us on Twitter (@impossiblefoods(opens in a new tab)) or Instagram (@impossible_foods(opens in a new tab)) and we may feature your posts on our channels! We also have a store locator on our website(opens in a new tab) to help connect customers who love Impossible products with the amazing restaurants who serve them.
Key Takeaway: meet your audience where they spend the most time and communicate your exciting news there.
If you have more questions about launching a plant-based menu item or want to give Impossible products a try, request a free sample!(opens in a new tab) We’re here to support you along your journey, whether you’re celebrating your first menu launch or your 1000th.