Consumers are seeking healthier plant based diets

The pandemic brought health to the forefront of many consumers’ minds—and not just in relation to COVID-19 itself. Health-conscious consumers are increasingly seeking ways to promote wellness across all aspects of their lives, and unsurprisingly, eating a healthy diet is a cornerstone.

According to Technomic’s 2020 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, nearly one in four consumers say they’re ordering more healthy menu items at foodservice than they did before the pandemic. Additionally, according to the report, 37% say that health is an important purchase driver when they’re deciding what to order at a restaurant, as opposed to 27% before the pandemic.

Consumers’ definition of “healthy” food is constantly evolving, however. Currently, the growing appeal of plant-based foods and diets is likely correlated with the growing number of consumers preferring a healthier diet—and for that reason, it’s crucial that operators develop strategies to leverage each of these trends in conjunction.

 

Plant-based options gaining traction

Meatless meals have been increasing in popularity in their own right, but the plant-based trend offers major appeal to healthier eaters, too. Technomic’s 2020 Healthy Eating report states that consumers feel that many of the plant-based foods they’re familiar with are healthier than those made with traditional animal-based proteins.

In other words, it can be wise for operators to offer some crowd-pleasing plant-based options on the menu. It’s a great way to ensure that both consumers eating meatless diets as well as those seeking better-for-you options can order something that aligns with their priorities and tastes great, too.

 

Adapt comfort food to meet healthy eating trends

The pandemic has driven demand for comfort food to new heights. According to Technomic’s 2020 Healthy Eating report, 60% of operators say consumers have been focusing more on comfort foods since the pandemic’s onset.

Often associated with more indulgent eats, the trends toward comfort and healthier, plant-based foods may seem to be in opposition. This isn’t necessarily the case, however. For example, “natural” is the No. 1 callout consumers say they look for when they want to order a healthy item—an attribute that’s as easy to apply to classic comfort foods as it is to plant-based creations.

Finding ingredients and products that meet the mark for consumers prioritizing plant-based foods, healthy foods, comfort foods or all of the above may seem like a tall order, but simple solutions can fit the bill.

The new Honest Earth® line from Idahoan®, for example, offers all these attributes and more. Honest Earth Rustic Mashed Potatoes and Creamy Mashed Potatoes are each made with simple, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. Mashed potatoes are endlessly customizable for crafting plant-based dishes that satisfy, and they carry all the appeal of a comfort food classic. What’s more, they’re margin-friendly and easy to prepare.