Here come the Flexitarians

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The difference between a flexitarian and an omnivore is making a conscious choice to balance your meat and vegetable intake. More and more cafes and restaurants are adding plant-based meals to their menus and it might be time for you to cater to the diverse dietary preferences within this umbrella. 


 

The food choices of many Kiwis are changing as trends indicate an increasing number of people adopting plant-based diets. In the past few decades, the New Zealand food scene has witnessed the rise of various food and beverage trends, such as the rising popularity of gluten-free, dairy-free and veganism. For food suppliers, there’s a need to keep a watch on food fads, but even more important is the need to monitor and anticipate shifts in food consumption, such as the growing popularity of plant-based diets.

31% of New Zealanders are Flexitarian or Meat-Reducers, and a further 3% are Vegetarian or Vegan.The largest proportion of the plant-based customer demographic comprises of flexitarians. Reasons behind the decision to opt for plant-based protein range from perceived health benefits, ethical and environmental impact and religion.

As this trend becomes mainstream, a growing number of food service establishments will look to enhance their menus to cater to this demand. 

Vegetarians, Vegans and Flexitarians

Before you decide to cater to this trend, it’s important to get an understanding of the key characteristics of the three groups. 

Vegetarians

Will not eat any food that has been made from or with the aid of animals that have died. 

Vegans

Will not eat any food that has been made from or with the aid of animals irrespective of whether the animal has died or not. 

Flexitarians

Actively seek to reduce the amount of meat on their plate or the number of meat meals they eat each week. They are not vegetarian!

Below are the most common profiles of flexitarians that you should be considering when developing you menu.

Flexitarian types

 

The direct benefits to operators by expanding their plant-based options include: 

1.    Driving new customers into the business. 
2.    Better positioning of business to cater to diverse groups of diners. 
3.    Being relevant in the restaurant and food space. 

Common objections from businesses

While majority of operators are realising the value of changing up their menus, certain hesitations do exist.  Given that vegans are a significantly small demographic, does it make financial sense to elevate existing menus to cater to this market? However the alternate perspective is that offering plant-based or vegan items allow operators to cover all bases and also simplify their operations.  
 

References 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1910/S00672/research-reveals-the-rise-of-plant-based-eating-in-nz.htm#:~:text=The%20research%20found%20that%2031,eating%20no%20meat%20at%20all.
Love meat too much to go vego? Become a flexitarian 2020  
The Food People Menu Analysis Research 2020 
Nutripro 2020