Hungry for Change: Plant-Based Options at Fast Food Franchises on the Rise
January 26, 2024
Friendliness for vegan and vegetarian consumers ranked as more restaurants serve up alternatives
South Africans sure do love their fast food, and issues such as the COVID-19 lockdowns and the never ending disruption of load-shedding have contributed to a considerable increase in fast-food consumption in our country, with a whopping 33.1 percent rise since 2019.
Making choices that drive us to healthier, more ethical and environmentally-friendly lifestyles in what we eat have become a global trend, and the fast food industry has gradually been developing to cater convenience to today’s more conscientious consumer.
Vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians are largely driving this shift, making up to 10 – 12 percent of the South African consumer base as of 2023. Responding to this demand, national fast-food chains have quickly and innovatively adopted plant-based options, providing exciting new food choices that feed the frenzy for more and novel plant-rich alternatives.
The new report looked at the number of plant-based offerings at major fast food outlets, also known as Quick Service Restaurants [QSRs] as the main criteria for performance. Even with the options available today, there’s certainly room for improvement and the conclusions in the report will help any franchise to better accommodate these customers and capitalise on the veggie boom.
It all started last year with the 2022 Plant-Based Friendly Fast-Food Franchise Ranking, which reviewed the menus of South Africa’s top fast-food and restaurant franchises. The 2023 report offers a similar review and adjusts for menu presentation and labelling as an added-appeal factor.
The purpose of this report is to encourage food outlets to grow their plant-based product offerings and promote them more consistently. While it is exciting to see more of these menu items and increased awareness among South Africans, it was found that there’s definitely still room to grow in our market.
People are hungry for more and restaurants now have an excellent platform to showcase plant-based cuisine in an appealing and accessible way to the average fast-food eating South African.
“V” isn’t just for vegan
There are plenty of flexitarians and omnivores that may be curious about trying plant-based as well and opt for something different. And of course there are always groups of customers eating together that may be turning away from choosing a particular chain if one or two of their friends and family follow a more plant-based friendly diet, instead looking for places with options that speak to everyone in the ensemble.
Franchises have a golden opportunity to signal to consumers that they are progressive and in touch with current lifestyle shifts by including more plant-based options to their offering. What was once a tiny, niche market is rapidly encountering phenomenal growth with many millions of people already having ditched animal products as part of their diet and programs such as Veganuary that garner volumes more sign-ups, year upon year.
The next ten years are going to be big for everything plant-based, and ProVeg South Africa, with our thorough understanding of the plant-based and meat alternatives market is here to help provide insights to any food business looking to bring new products to market and position themselves shrewdly for this new wave of consumers.