I just came across this link. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to helping people add vegetarian options to their menus. Although I don’t like the term “finicky teenagers” when refering to those who refrain from eating animal products, it looks like this program is a step in the right direction. There is no question that restaurants not offering interesting vegetarian selections are losing customers. Due to increasing hype about how vegetarian foods promote health, support the environment, and help animals, more and more people are exploring a vegetarian diet.
While this trend is obvious, I’ve been doing some research for my business plan to indicate that there is a strong consumer demand for vegetarian food products. I’ve found some interesting results and will add more information as I find it.
Here is what I came up with:
A 2006 study by Mintel Consumer Intelligence titled “Attitudes Towards Vegetarianism” indicates that “vegetarianism and vegetarian food has become a much more accepted part of everyday life.”
Another 2006 Mintel report titled “Meat-free Foods” predicts the market for meat free foods to grow 22% by 2011. It also expects that during this timespan, 20-24-year-old vegetariarians will increase by 7%. According to this report, while people over 45 don’t generally tend to be vegetarians, they are more likely to seek out vegetarian products when the industry markets them as “better for you” rather than “vegetarian.”
A 1999 Vegetarian Resource Group poll indicates that 57 percent of the population sometimes, often, or always ordered a vegetarian item when eating out. Vegetarian Resource Group’s Vegetarian Journal 1998 reader survey indicated that 82% of readers were interested in vegetarianism because of health reasons, while a smaller percentage were interested because of ethics, concern for the environment, or animal rights.
The National Restaurant Association’s Tableservice Restaurant Trends–1998 found that more than one-third of consumers were ordering more vegetarian items than they were two years previously. The same restaurant trend study in 2002 indicates that approximately eighty percent of restaurants offered vegetarian entrees.
According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association in conjunction with the National Association of College and University Foodservice, as many as 20 percent of college students are vegetarians and the number is rising.
The June 2002 issue of Restaurant USA Magazine published an article with a list of ways to promote vegetarian menu items to customers. One of those tips is not to single out vegetarian menu items as “vegetarian.”