Vegan QSRs: What’s Next?

Quick service restaurants (QSR) are gaining immense popularity owing to their fast service and mouth-watering menus. As QSRs offer a variety of fast-food ranging from burgers to sandwiches, consumers are preferring the same. From the last few years, growing conscious regarding eating plant-based food is reshaping the QSR industry. This has led to QSRs introducing and launching a range of plant-based or vegan foods. 

A report by MedAlertHelp states that 79 million people are vegans across the world. The increasing tendency of consumers to eat plant-based food outside their homes too is changing the menu cards of QSRs across the globe. With a galore of plant-based recipes already existing in different parts of the world, commercializing the same has become easier. Plant-based burgers are playing a pivotal role in changing the face of QSRs and making them more vegan-friendly. According to Future Market Insights, the plant-based burger market is expected to register a staggering double-digit CAGR of 22 percent by the end of 2030.  

QSRs are not only offering plant-based food items but are also allowing consumers to customize their orders by adding cheese and veggies of their choice. This has led to consumers investing in plant-based fast-food as they are able to make their own favorite pizzas and customize their beverages. Future Market Insights’ event on veganism states that the overall vegan consumer base is expected to increase by 44 percent over the next five years.  Thus, QSRs are focusing on providing a fulfilling personal experience to attract the flexitarian population too. 

Popular fast-food joints such as McDonalds’, Starbucks, KFC and Burger King are launching various plant-based food products. These QSRs are taking initiatives to experiment and understand consumers’ inclination towards plant-based fast-food. This, in turn, will help various QSRs to innovate with different ingredients and offer a wide variety of plant-based food products. 

Thus, in the blog, we discuss, how QSRs are offering and widening their portfolio by including plant-based food products. 

Burger King’s All Vegan Menu

A report by Future Market Insights states that the plant-based nuggets market is expected register a CAGR of 26 percent by the end of 2030. The demand for cheesy nuggets along with other plant-based food products such as sausages, hotdogs and meatballs has heightened in the last few years. Consumers have shown a keen inclination towards investing in protein-rich plant-based food products that offer taste along with health. Thus, QSRs are launching plant-based food products that offer crunchy and savory plant-based food products. Certain QSRs are experimenting and launching different plant-based products to understand the taste buds of consumers. This will help QSRs to widen their menu and offer a variety of plant-based food products. 

For instance, in March 2022, Burger King, the fast-food chain revamped its Leicester Square Flagship Restaurant to be fully vegan for a one-month trial. The fast-food joint is experimenting with providing vegan food to consumers and observing reactions closely. The vegan menu includes vegan hamburgers, cheeseburgers, nugget burgers, vegan ice creams and fries. With everything vegan on the go, the fast-food joint is focusing on attracting consumers by offering a completely plant-based menu. Based on the trial, Burger King will decide on the commercialization of the venture across different geographical regions. After analyzing the response from consumers, the fast-food joint will offer meat-free food products permanently to achieve its goal of sustainability. 

Try, Test and Launch: An Innovative Approach to Widen Vegan Portfolio 

QSRs are analyzing consumer behavior to understand the inclination of investing in plant-based foods. Thus, to attract the flexitarian population along with vegan population, QSRs are launching burgers and pizzas in a few stores. QSRs are also providing a range of vegan cheese options to attract a wider consumer base. QSRs in the U.S. and Europe are completely replacing meat with vegan patties in burgers to offer a varied and distinct taste to consumers. Thus, the trying and testing method is expected to give a better understanding of consumer needs. 

For instance, in March 2022, McDonalds’ announced the addition of McPlant burger to its permanent menu. The fast-food joint ran a successful trial in 2021 and took the decision of making the plant-based burger a permanent addition to the menu across the United Kingdom. The McPlant burger is co-developed with Beyond Meat and took three years to develop and decide on the ingredients of the same. The burger is made of various ingredients that are completely plant-based. For example: the cheese used in the burger is made of pea protein and the patty is made of a combination of different veggies that make the burger crunchy. This has led to consumers investing in the McPlant burger on a large scale. 

Conclusion – Vegan-Friendly QSR Market

QSRs are making vegan food mainstream. The growing vegan population across the world is changing the dynamics of QSRs too. This has led to QSRs actively researching and preparing for vegan fast-food. People are becoming more conscious regarding the impact their choices make on the environment. Thus, consumers are actively looking for QSRs that offer vegan food. QSRs too are tapping into the same potential and widening their menus and sales together.

Vegan food companies and QSRs are collaborating to research and prepare fast-food that is lip smacking and tasty. In the upcoming years, especially across the U.S. and Europe, most fast-foods are planning to launch a full-fledged vegan menu that can meet the demand of consumers. Thus, these products range from protein-rich beverages to solid vegan food such as tacos and coffees. 

Moving ahead, QSRs across the globe are focusing on innovating and launching vegan fast-food made from local ingredients. The conscious consumers of the upcoming years are already pledging for sustainability. Thus, QSRs too will hop onto the bandwagon to offer fast-food that is tasty and made from locally produced ingredients. Technology too is playing a key part in altering the taste of vegan food so that it matches the crunchiness of its meat counterparts. The future of QSRs is definitely a vegan-friendly one as it not only serves a larger consumer base but also offers great taste.