The challenges of plant based in the QSR
An increasing number of QSR chains are offering plant-based protein products. The target group is predominantly the flexitarian who wants to reduce his/her meat intake for health and environmental reasons.
In doing so, QSR chains respond to the strongly growing demand for plant-based protein products. These products are generally very well received. QSR chains often choose an entirely plant-based recipe in order to cater to vegans as well as flexitarians and vegetarians. In addition, entirely plant-based products are more sustainable than products in which egg protein and/or milk protein are used.
However, vegans (and some vegetarians) are increasingly concerned about cross-contamination between vegan and non-vegan or animal products during the preparation.
They pose questions such as:
- Are the vegetarian/vegan options cooked/grilled separate from any meat?
- Are different utensils used in the preparation of vegan/non-vegan products?
- Do all employees wash their hands and do they change gloves when preparing a vegan product?
Example from the market place
This was also the case with the introduction of the vegetarian Whopper of Burger King which was prepared on the same grill as the meat products. Negative posts on Social Media adversely affected the introduction. In their comments, Burger King explained that the burger is intended for meat lovers who like to try a plant-based product.
This reasoning would have been more convincing if it had been communicated beforehand. It remains to be seen whether a number of vegans would not have reacted if this had been the case, but it would have shown a clear vision on the issue.
Further increase of plant-based expected
In view of market developments, it is highly likely that an increasing number of plant-based protein products will feature on menus. It forces QSRs to reflect on the best and safest operational manner to integrate this in their work process.
Companies who successfully manage this will gain a competitive advantage. The aim is to continue working fast and efficiently, of course.
Successful development and introduction of vegetarian and vegan products.
Schouten, extensive experience with QSR
At Schouten, we have years of experience in advising customers in the QSR field how they can best integrate plant-based protein products in their work process.
In addition to a good product that is tasty and meets the customer’s requirements in terms of structure, we also consider it important to assist our customers in the areas of food safety and operational challenges such as described in this blog.
In many cases we develop customer-specific products. By including the operational aspects in the product development process from the start, we work together with the QSR partner to find the best possible solution.
During this process we test the possible preparation methods together with restaurant employees on location. Ultimately, the customer will of course decide which work method will be followed. It is always a trade-off.