Boost Juice founder Janine Allis made her fortune from blended fruit and veg, but the serial entrepreneur doesn’t think it’s wise to over complicate the emerging plant-based food trend.
The Retail Zoo founder has weighed in on the stream of replacement meat products popping up in the Australian market this year, saying what consumers want hasn’t actually changed that much.
“It’s nothing complicated,” Allis tells SmartCompany. “Plant-based is basically broccoli.”
“It’s been around since Adam, it’s not a new trend, but pretty much what your mother did, without meat.”
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Emerging technologies that enable plant-based products to imitate the taste and texture of meat are being viewed by retailers as one of the hot new trends sweeping the market.
Plant-based products have surged in popularity in Australia’s $20 billion fast-food and takeaway industry in the last 12 months, with companies such as Grill’d, Hungry Jacks, Domino’s and KFC all investing in such products.
They’re trying to cash in on growing demand for meat alternatives, with the number of Aussies who have ditched eating animals up to 12% of the population, according to Roy Morgan.
The big supermarkets are getting involved too, with both Coles and Woolies branching out into plant-based meat substitutes recently, benefitting manufacturers such as US-based Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Allis, whose company runs Betty’s Burgers, Salsas Mexican and Boost Juice Bars, says growing demand for plant-based products shouldn’t be ignored, but businesses should be wary of getting ahead of the market.
“The reality is people want great tasting products,” Allis says.
“Vegetarians and vegans are still a minority at the moment — people still like protein.”
Allis has a habit for picking a winner in the food and beverage space, having been one of the first local entrepreneurs to identify smoothies and healthy eating as a business opportunity in the early-2000s.
The market looks very different today than 19 years ago when Boost Juice was founded. Customers have well and truly gone digital, while sustainability and animal welfare are front of mind for many.
Retail Zoo has responded by following customers online, creating mobile applications and digital engagement strategies in recent years, and launching paper straws in Boost Juice Bars last year amid ongoing concern about the plastic waste crisis.
“At the end of the day, you have to adapt with your consumer,” Allis says.
“If they’re prepared to pay for it, you investigate and make it work.”
Shop around for delivery
It’s a tumultuous time for Australia’s retail sector, with widespread disruption to food, cafe and takeaway business models as the on-demand economy continues to grow in prominence.
Online food delivery is a multi-billion-dollar business in Australia, with global giants such as UberEats, Deliveroo and Menulog stepping in to cash in on the trend.
Allis says the platforms are a double-edged sword of sorts for businesses.
“These delivery businesses give us an opportunity we’ve never had before,” she says.
“We’ve tried delivery before and haven’t done it that successfully.”
The Boost Juice founder’s warning for entrepreneurs looking to ink deals with the platforms? Go in wide-eyed.
“Understand your model. You find a lot of these delivery businesses take a large portion of the selling price, which is fair enough,” Allis says.
“But get the best deal you can. Shop around and find out what other delivery options there are.”