If you own a café and don’t have plant-based options, it’s time to reconsider your business model as 30% of café patrons are making this choice.
Article by Sean Edwards
Plant Based Consultant
Today’s customers are far more likely to pick a plant based option for their regular café visit, not because they are on a vegan or a vegetarian diet, it’s now about a lifestyle choice.
Green and clean has been thrown around loosely for years, but now global trends are seeing more people mixing their food and beverage choice on a weekly basis. Plant based milk in café coffee service is now around 30% of all drinks sold and almond milk has outgrown soy. Oat milk is hot on almond milks tail and will probably be the next new kid on the block.
The stigma of having an unusual diet has gone out the window, mainly due to covid lockdown conditions where more people prepared meals at home and discovered new healthier and tasty diets to overcome the Netflix belly.
Plant based options were a good choice as people realised that they could replace meats and bread-based foods with fruit and vegetables without putting on too much extra weight. Exercise was limited in some cities, so diet was a way out of countering the lack of movement in one’s day.
There has been a lot of recent studies around switching to a plant based diet to reduce disease, and the constant bombardment of covid figures made many of us think deeply about our lifestyles.
Now that we are emerging from home lockups and starting to revisit hospitality venues, we will be asking aloud what our plant based options are? These options don’t have to be too radical, they can be as simple as having more choices in salads, or hot options can be vegetable soups or a veg lasagna.
The possibilities are endless for plant base choices in café and most of the largest food service businesses globally are getting involved in development and launching café-ready products.
Plant based food and beverage companies are throwing mega dollars at the industry with now some of the biggest food base giants like Nestle, Kerry and Danone raising billions to enter the market. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, along with plant based converted celebrities like Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton helped raise 235 million dollars for new start plant business NotCo with NotMilk.
Closer to home startups like “Love Buds” have launched some tasty new meat replacements for meat and chicken patties. Renee Rogers, the General manager for All G Foods, creators of “Buds” told me about their launch into retail and food service with café meat substitutes.
Renee has been blown away by the real investment “All G Foods” has raised for the development of food service replacement meat like burgers, schnitzel and bacon. The company was a financial recipient of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding along with other well-known brands like V2food.
Renee, who has spent the last 10 years in the plant milk café manufacturing and sale sector is excited about new opportunities extending into the café menu.
Plant based milks have definitely taken centre stage in positioning in café, with over 20 brands alone in the Australian café market.
Popular brands like Alternative Dairy Co, MilkLab, Vitasoy and Bonsoy are dominating cafés with barista-designed milks. There is now a 25% take up of plant based drinks in all milk based coffees served in café according to the 2021 Café Pulse report. The quality of plant based milks have been raising the bar and many people are willing to switch if they are offered a healthier option to dairy.
Social media has been one of the big pushes in plant base media, and Insta groups like @Plantbasednews, @Vegan_food_uk and @bestofvegan have massive followings including mainstream celebrities. People have been glued to their phones over the last two years, so groups like this really get into their minds and make consumer trend changes.
Successful documentaries have also had an effect, such as “The Game Changers” and “A Life on our Planet” and Netflix hit “Rotten”. Media has done a pretty good job at giving people a different view of lifestyle movement.
So, the motivation and moral of this story is, if you are running a café without plant based options you will probably be missing out on that most important part of the business – Revenue. It’s easy to get on board and these decisions are helping the world as we all become aware of the importance of a sustainable future.