Modern Marketing Data & Privacy Food

Are plant-based options still a priority for consumers?

By Julie Vigne | Senior Director

Savanta

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October 19, 2022 | 5 min read

Many major eating-out brands are catering to the demand for healthier eating by offering plant-based menus. Market research group Savanta captured the popularity of plant-based products in a recent study, recounted here by Julie Vigne.

Burger on wooden chopping board

Food brands are warming up to the idea of a plant-based menu, but is it too much too late? / Lucas Andrade via Unsplash

Data from Savanta’s Grocery Eye study, a tracker of purchase behavior in the FMCG sector, tells us that 28% of consumers are aiming to eat more plant-based food this year.

With plant-based products increasingly available, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a 2% increase in those adopting new diets in the last year, including those actively reducing meat, flexitarians, and vegetarians.

BrandVue, Savanta’s daily brand tracker, asks consumers which brands they think are environmentally friendly. On average, brands that are considered environmentally friendly are 9% more loved than brands at an overall level. But does an environmentally friendly food offering really drive brand love?

Going green

McDonald's, which takes the top spot as the number 1 'most loved eating out brand' for the 4th year in a row, has announced plans to become the plant-based food and drink leader in the UK. This includes its partnership with Beyond Meat, who will be the supplier of the McPlant patty. The launch of the McPlant in the UK saw a 4% uplift in brand love for McDonald’s, showing that a plant-based offering does increase love for a brand when done right.

But it isn’t just a plant-based menu that the most-loved brands are offering. The top five most loved brands all use sustainable packaging. Costa, who placed 4th in Savanta’s league table, recently announced a move to plant-based cups and lids. Since switching to plant-based lids, Costa’s environmentally friendly ratings have doubled to 14%, an all-time high for the coffee shop chain.

Are consumers caring less?

Although plant-based eating is on the up, Grocery Eye data tells us that perceptions of how important this type of diet is to consumers are decreasing. Honest burgers introduced ‘V Honest’ in London in January, with an entirely plant-based menu, but returned to its full meat-based offering just six months later due to low demand.

So, is a plant-based offering a key ingredient for brand love? Not necessarily. But it is a key commonality between our most loved brands who are paving the way with ambitious initiatives to help us build back greener. Brands looking to enter this space will need to carefully consider what will cut through in an already saturated market.

Download Savanta’s report here for the full list of The UK's Top 100 Most Loved Eating Out Brands, as well as insights on the future of the sector and how brands can stay relevant in the coming years.

Modern Marketing Data & Privacy Food

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