The demand for lighter menu options is driving another facet of the alternative protein trend: According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor data, the incidence of non-beef burgers on menus has been on the rise over the last year. Consumers love burgers, and even if they love indulging in a favorite burger, many will be tempted to try a burger labeled as “new”. Burgers made with chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, etc. can still pack the sumptuous flavor punch that consumers expect, while also delivering on the healthy halo effect.
Technomic says that non-beef alternative proteins are beginning to become standard options on menus, as consumers grow to expect more customization options.1 Technomic’s MenuMonitor database shows that salmon is surging as an alternative burger protein because it’s more healthful while still delivering a rich taste and tender texture. Even though it carries an average upcharge of $2−3, consumers will pay it because they crave options that taste fresh and seem better for them.
It’s a generally known fact that animal products are not the only source of protein. But you may be surprised by the extent of possibilities when catering to your vegetarian or “meatless Monday” patrons. Beans, lentils, natto, quinoa, Seitan, tempeh and tofu are all protein power hitters, and incorporating them onto your menu can earn you major points among those looking for a tasty new meat-free sandwich or wrap. And don’t forget about the king of plant-based proteins—mushrooms. Black bean burgers and Portobello burgers are two great meat alternatives that still satisfy.
Offering alternative protein can also be good for business because, according to Technomic’s Consumer Trend Report, it helps to prevent a dining party from vetoing an operation simply because of its protein offerings. If you offer even one alternative protein, chances are someone with special dietary needs will be more likely to visit your operation. It shows that you care about your customers and it can also put you at an advantage if a customer can’t find the protein option elsewhere.
The more creative you get with your proteins, the more your menu will appeal to today’s changing lifestyles and tastes. So don’t be shy about exploring all the deliciously different options available today.
1Technomic, Technomic Finds Contraction in the Burger Restaurant Segment; 2013 Growth Driven by Strong Regional Chains, April 2014