Americans are swapping burgers with plant-based substitutes like jackfruit for summer BBQs
Burgers are gonna have to make room on the barbeque grill.
One third of all Americans, and 37% of millennials, plan to buy more plant-based products over the next year, according to Mintel’s 2018 Summer Food & Drink Trends report. And specialty vegan products such as the jackfruit, black bean chipotle, mushroom mince and cauliflower are becoming popular substitutes for barbecue meats like steak and sausage.
Jackfruit sales have been taking off in particular, since the meaty texture can be shredded to resemble pulled pork or chicken. Upton’s Naturals, a natural foods company that focuses on meat alternatives, credits the spiky fruit native to Southeast Asia for boosting its sales. The company sells the products shredded or “carnitas style,” seasoned, and prepared versions in stores.
“Since our jackfruit launch, which seems to have kickstarted the jackfruit trend, our company has doubled its staff and grown overall by 300%,” Dan Staackmann, Upton’s Naturals founder told Moneyish. “As more mainstream consumers adopt a vegan diet, or at least incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet, we’ll see a continued rise in the popularity of meat alternatives.”
Six percent of Americans identify as vegan according to the GlobalData “Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017” report. In fact, the total market for the plant-based food sector was more than $3.1 billion in sales as of last year, according to data from Nielsen, The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association.
Plant-based diets and products are appealing to increasingly health-conscious foodies. NYC student Myra Sabet, 21, became a vegetarian a year and half ago because she was worried about her family’s history of heart disease. “I did a lot of research … and learned that there were a lot of health conditions that arise from eating meat, and I realized a lot of my family members have had heart problems from it, as well,” she told Moneyish. And it’s been a relatively easy transition because she’s not alone. “I have noticed that especially here in New York, a lot of people in college are trying to eat clean and healthy,” she said.
Some other recent additions to the veggie burger world include the “Impossible Burger,” a plant-based patty that looks and cooks like real meat — and even bleeds. Created by Impossible Foods, a company that makes plant-based meat and dairy products, this burger look-a-like boasts an all-natural ingredients list of wheat, coconut oil and potatoes.
The “Beyond Burger,” developed by plant-based product company Beyond Meat, has also become a popular meatless dupe. The brand has seen a record setting four-fold increase in sales, and has had to expand from a 30,000-square-foot production facility to a second, 100,000-square-foot facility to feed the high demand. “This expansion in our production capacity speaks to the transitions we are seeing within consumers, who are getting more and more information about red meat in relation to their health,” Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, told Moneyish. “In my opinion, the future is one in which it is commonplace for people to have plant-based meats. (And) the reason I’m so adamant about calling it that [plant-based ‘meat’] is because, in terms of ingredients, it satiates people in the same way.”
A lot of restaurants have also noticed an uptick in the number of vegetarian and vegan dishes being ordered by customers. “I think it’s easier than ever for people to access delicious, meatless, vegan options for summer BBQ’s,” Samantha Wasser, co-founder of the fast-casual vegan restaurant by CHLOE in NYC told Moneyish. “We’ve seen a general increase in diners wanting more plant-based options, even if they don’t subscribe to a fully vegan lifestyle.
“People are becoming more aware of the food they are putting in their bodies, how it makes them feel, where it comes from and how it impacts our planet,” Wasser added. And recent trend reports support this. Grubhub’s Mid-Year Data Analysis found a 19% increase in vegan orders in 2017 than the previous year, with the top five trendiest vegan dishes being vegan quesadillas and tofu wings.
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