Posted on Monday, 17th February, 2020
With more diners than ever making sustainable and dietary-driven food choices, the culinary landscape is undergoing rapid transformation.
One of the leading trends amongst diners is a growing preference for plant-based foods. While this style of eating was once solely associated with vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, an increasing cross-section of the community is now choosing to incorporate more plant-based food into their diets.
It’s even resulted in a new class of diner known as the flexitarian; a person who allows themselves the occasional meal containing meat or fish but is essentially a vegetarian. The flexitarian diet is less about eliminating foods and more about adding healthy ones such as seeds, nuts, lentils and beans.
Modern dietary choices are being driven by environmental and sustainability concerns as knowledge around food resourcing grows. But for many people, it’s also about trying to eat better.
Food Frontier, a not-for-profit think tank dedicated to a healthy and sustainable food future, says Australia is the world’s third fastest-growing market for plant-based foods, while New Zealand’s rate of plant-based food consumption has increased nearly 30% in five years.¹
Meanwhile, Google Trends shows huge growth in people searching the words veganism, vegetarian and flexitarian, with Australia third in worldwide searches for veganism, second globally for the term vegetarian and second overall for flexitarian searches. New Zealand is fourth in searches for veganism, third for vegetarian and fourth for flexitarian.²
Of interest to hospitality businesses is the growth in online searches for “vegetarian restaurants”. Google data shows use of this term rose a notable 32% in the two years to 2018.³
Clearly, diners in our region are demonstrating significant interest in plant-based diets. So what does the current data have to say about our meat-eating habits?
Consumption of beef in Australia
Well, according to the OECD, while the worldwide consumption of beef has remained steady across the past 15 years, in Australia it has dropped from nearly 29 kilograms on average per person in 2004 to less than 19 kilograms in 2019, a remarkable decline. It’s a similar story in New Zealand, with Kiwis recording a drop in beef consumption from more than 20 kilograms per capita in 2004 to less than 12 kilograms in 2019.⁴
This new landscape comes with profound implications for chefs, who are busily trying to keep up with the evolving lifestyle and dietary choices being made by their diners.
According to Andrew Ballard, Executive Chef Australasia at Unilever Food Solutions ANZ, chefs simply need to become more creative.
“Pub, club and café menus have had staples on menus that haven’t changed for decades; the time has come for chefs to inspire a new generation of diners,” he says.
“It’s a big opportunity. Chefs need to cater for diners who will choose to eat less meat and more plant-based meals, so menus and offerings need to change to incorporate this. Creating unique dishes and getting enough flavour into the dish is where the exciting challenge lies.”
For this reason, Knorr Professional continues to support chefs with an expanding range of solutions, including vegetarian and vegan ingredients, supported by recipes ideas that provide the flexibility to meet any plant-based dietary request.
¹ https://www.foodfrontier.org/why-au-nz/, retrieved 23 January 2020
² https://trends.google.com/trends/explore, retrieved 23 January 2020
³ Source: OOH Plant Based Food Trends (Aus) research report by UFS People Data Center and CMI, September 2018
⁴ https://data.oecd.org/agroutput/meat-consumption.htm, retrieved 29 January 2020