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.
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
As the better-for-you movement goes from the margins of the foodservice industry to the mainstream, consumers are showing a growing appetite for well-being food and beverage products. With all the emphasis on wellness and transparency, the upward arc of the well-being foodservice trend seems a natural progression.
Millennial foodies are serving big changes to the foodservice industry. With 50% of U.S. millennials—one-eighth of the entire U.S. population—claiming to be foodies, foodservice entrepreneurs and restaurant operators are feeling the heat throughout the supply chain to cater to this coveted demographic, as millennial foodies drive menu innovation and transform the food economy.1