Even Meat Eaters are Fascinated by Veggie Burgers

BY Rachel Cagle
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"Plant-​based and veggie burgers are increasingly finding their way on to quick service restaurants (QSRs) menu boards and customers are responding. There were 228 million servings of veggie burgers and veggie sandwiches ordered at QSRs in the year ending May, up 10% from a year ago, reports The NPD Group."

"With all of the buzz surrounding the popularity of plant-​based burgers some are wondering if veggie burgers are closing in on beef burgers or if the growth of plant-​based burgers corresponds to an increase in vegetarianism or veganism. Here are some answers."

"Beef burgers are still by far the most popular burger ordered at QSRs. There were 6.4 billion beef burgers ordered at QSRs in the year ending May 2019, and although growth is flat compared to year ago, beef burgers are still the top sandwich ordered at U.S. restaurants, reports NPD’s CREST service, which continually tracks how U.S. consumers use restaurants. The strong year-​over-​year growth of plant-​based burgers is primarily due to increased availability at major QSR chains."

"The increased availability of plant-​based burgers on QSR menus has created trial on the part of beef burgers buyers. Beef burger buyers, who purchased beef burgers at QSRs an average of 18 times in the year ending April 2019, did give plant-​based burgers a try, purchasing them at QSRs two times in the period. Another way to look at it is that 95% of plant-​based buyers have made a beef burger purchase within the past year, according to NPD’s receipt harvesting serving, Checkout."

"Although vegetarians and vegans are certainly contributing to the growth in plant-​based, they still represent a small (single digits) percentage of the U.S. population and aren’t the primary contributors. A larger percentage of the overall adult population, 18%, are trying to get more plant-​based foods into their diets, reports NPD’s Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracker. The popularity of plant-​based foods is being fueled by consumers’ want to get more protein in their diets (60% of U.S. adults want more protein in their diets), concerns for animal welfare and how meat products are brought to market, sustainability, and what they perceive to be healthier nutrition."

“'Plant-​based burgers allow consumers to substitute without sacrifice. They get the ‘burger’ experience while assuaging their need for more protein and social concerns,' says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. 'With that said, U.S. consumers have not given up on beef burgers but are willing to mix things up every now and then.'”

Deals could convince even omnivores to give plant-​based burgers a try every once in a while. According to AudienceSCAN, last year, more than half of Fast Food Lovers were driven to action by ads they saw on daily deals sites such as Groupon, as well as direct mail ads and coupons. Additionally, within the last month, they've also gone online to find coupons and discount codes. Advertisers could also try appealing to their taste buds visually by showing off the veggie burgers in TV commercials and outdoor ads, both of which these diners responded to in great numbers last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. In addition, AdMall contains industry profiles on restaurants (fast-​casual, quick-​serve and full-​service), as well as lead lists at the local level. Media companies, sales reps and agencies can access this data with a subscription to AdMall from SalesFuel.