Quick service restaurants (QSRs) continue to find success and publicity when releasing meat alternative menu items, appealing to the growing trend towards ethical and sustainable consumption.
However, these companies are not doing enough to market their production methods transparently and are failing to effectively focus on the health and sustainability benefits of their products, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Matthew Coates, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Iconic QSR examples in the past year have included Greggs’ vegan sausage roll and KFC’s meatless chicken trial. However, not all attempts have gone down perfectly, with contention accompanying a number of vegan or vegetarian releases over the past few years. Burger King was met with controversy following the release of its new Impossible Whopper, which was found to not be entirely vegan in many stores. Similarly, McDonald’s was forced to make a public apology in the UK after several customers were served chicken nuggets in their vegan wraps.”
With vegetarianism and veganism often associated with consumers trying to lead healthier lifestyles, consumers are concerned that many meat-free alternatives are not significantly healthier than the meat option.
According to GlobalData’s 2018 Q4 Consumer Survey, 65% respondents globally are always/often influenced by how a product/service impacts their health and wellbeing. This was also true for 66%, 69% and 62% of Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, respectively, which are often associated with the push for vegan foods.
Coates added: “Meat-free alternatives will likely see greater long-term success by better communicating the health, sustainability and ethical benefits of the products being sold, as well as offering better transparency. This will help ensure that consumers trust and are confident in the company and the product they are eating, which would help shed the image that QSRs are unhealthy, unethical and unsustainable.”