Nestlé Professional research has revealed that 22% of UK consumers plan to eat more plant-based meat alternatives, and 19% more plant-based dairy in the coming months.
As well as increasing consumption of these less traditional plant-based foods, vegetables and legumes are in ascendency, with 39% and 24% of consumers looking to up their intake of these.
With health and wellbeing traditionally front of mind for consumers at the start of the New Year, Nestlé Professional has released these key findings to help food operators plan their 2022 menus.
In addition to learning about attitudes towards diet, Nestlé Professional surveyed changing consumer awareness of sustainable food. Findings revealed that more than three quarters of consumers (78%) equate sustainable food choices with their own personal health and wellbeing.
And with 71% saying they would be likely to choose sustainable options if available, this presents a big opportunity for food operators to adapt – to meet consumer needs while making a lasting impact on the environment.
Eating out, most consumers are conscious about choosing sustainable dishes, with 58% choosing plant-based or vegetarian options: sometimes, often, or always.
They could be persuaded to eat more plant-based, however, if presented dishes with improved flavour and texture (30%), greater variety (23%), and plant-based alternatives to popular meat dishes (20%). And a quarter (25%) would like extra encouragement, in the form of free samples or taste testing events.
For food operators, this translates into an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and rework classics with meat alternatives. This is while promoting healthy and sustainable meal choices through events and samples of plant-rich dishes.
Katya Simmons, Managing Director, Nestlé Professional UK&I, says: “With Veganuary kicking in at the start of the year, it’s likely that food operators have already been considering what they offer the growing ranks of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians. These figures indicate a clear opportunity to provide delicious, plant-based meals that offer greater choice for consumers wanting to eat more healthily and sustainably too.
“No doubt food operators are already looking at their carbon footprint and ways in which they can reduce this across their operations. This represents a win-win: giving consumers the healthy, sustainable dishes they demand, while decreasing carbon emissions.
“The growth in demand for plant-based products is being driven by two powerful trends: health and concern for the planet.
“Now it’s up to food operators to give consumers that extra nudge – through greater innovation, and encouragement to try something different. It’s good for business, it’s good for the customer, and it’s vital for the planet!”