Driven by a need for nourishment, distraction and other factors,1 in recent years, snacking has become somewhat of a national pastime.
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As the chicken sandwich wars continue to reach new heights, it was inevitable that they would dovetail with another major foodservice trend: plant-based chicken. Protein alternatives in the category could rise fast in the pecking order of chicken sandwiches, given high demand for foods that are both flavorful and functional—a combination that COVID-19 has brought to the front burner of foodservice.
“Sustainable is attainable” seems to be the mantra of restaurant chains as waste reduction and earth-friendly innovation come to the foodservice forefront.
Consumers’ appetite for sustainability is strong. They not only want food that tastes good; they also want to feel good about the foodservice options they choose. And not only will they favor operations that step up to the sustainability plate; they’re also willing to pay more for sustainable solutions. As noted in Mondelēz International Foodservice’s 2021 Foodservice Trends: A Look at the Road Ahead report, sustainability is so important to surveyed consumers that they're willing to pay up to $2 more for eco-friendly packaging.1 Four in 10 consider such packaging important.1
Off-premises dining now comprises a larger portion of overall sales than it did pre-pandemic in all six major restaurant segments (family dining, casual dining, fine dining, quick service, fast casual, and coffee and snack).1 No doubt, the demand for takeout will remain strong in the coming months as summer temperatures and higher vaccination rates prompt consumers to seek a convenient way to dine outside—and take leftovers home.
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Given the heightened awareness of the importance of better-for-you and functional food options, it makes sense that demand for protein alternatives would grow exponentially during the pandemic.
As we reported in our 2021 Foodservice Trends: A Look at the Road Ahead report, 78% of consumers would like restaurants to menu more food and beverages with functional benefits.1 The consumer appetite for functional foods is robust, with 61% of those surveyed saying they're either extremely or very interested in them.1