QSR chains Burger King and Red Robin debuted the Impossible Burger on its menus this year, and Carl's Jr and Del Taco added the Beyond Burger as a meal option. In addition, a recent report from restaurant delivery service Grubhub revealed that orders of the Impossible Burger increased by 82% within the past year.
The increased availability of plant-based burgers on QSR menus has created trial on the part of beef burger buyers who represent the majority of orders at quick-service restaurants; 95% of those who have purchased plant-based burgers have also made a regular beef burger purchase within the past year, according to The NPD Group.
"Although vegetarians and vegans are certainly contributing to the growth in plant-based, they still represent a small (single digits) percentage of the US population and aren’t the primary contributors," noted NPD. "A larger percentage of the overall adult population, 18 percent, are trying to get more plant-based foods into their diets.”
Aside from wanting to add more plant-based foods to their diets, NPD added that consumption of plant-based foods is being driven by consumers' wanting to get more protein into their diet, along with concerns about animal welfare, and how meat products are brought to market from a sustainaibity standpoint.
“Plant-based burgers allow consumers to substitute without sacrifice. They get the ‘burger’ experience while assuaging their need for more protein and [addressing] social concerns,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.
Serrif added that while there is a lot of buzz around plant-based meat alternatives, the traditional beef burger still beats out plant-based with 6.4 billion beef burgers ordered at QSRs in the past year.
“With that said, US consumers have not given up on beef burgers but are willing to mix things up every now and then.”