Fast-food chain Grill’d has ripped meat out of its menu today in a bid to get on the front-foot with a growing number of vegan and vegetarian customers in Australia.
The business will be meat-free for the entirety of Monday, April 15 across its 137 stores nationwide in partnership with plant-based meat-substitute business Beyond Burgers.
“We’ve noticed a shift in the way our guests are ordering. We’ve seen a 10% increase in orders for our plant-based burgers,” the business said.
“We’ve listened to feedback, had insightful conversations and noticed this trend stretch further than our own restaurant doors.”
Grill’d Founder and managing director Simon Crowe reckons customers won’t be able to tell the difference.
“We genuinely believe plant-based alternatives will form a huge part of the future of burgers, especially with our new menu selection of Beyond Burgers that taste just like beef,” he said in a statement circulated over the weekend.
Crowe has form in this area, previously announcing his business would make 50% of its menu plant-based by 2020.
Grill’d is not the only fast-food retailer jumping on the trend either, with Hungry Jacks and Schnitz also recently adding plant-based options to their menus.
Of course, it all follows the success of Lord of the Fries, which has an entirely plant-based menu.
There’s undeniable interest in plant-based substitutes, so it’s not surprising to see businesses moving with the tides.
Demand for plant-based meat substitutes has exploded in recent years as numbers of vegan and vegetarian consumers has increased, according to IBISWorld data.
“The quality of these products is also increasing at a rapid pace, with plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy foods continuously being launched,” IBISWorld senior industry analyst James Caldwell says.
Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Gary Mortimer says the move is timely given the recent media coverage of vegan protests.
“It’s a risky strategy,” Mortimer tells SmartCompany.
“This is a strategy to connect with a new market, which are vegans,” Mortimer says.
Mortimer says its likely more QSR businesses will jump on the plant-based train in the coming years.
“Where in the past we had vegetarian options we’ll see QSR’s move to vegan options,” he says.
“I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of full-day no meat sales … it does isolate a majority of their market.”
It’s all bad news for traditional industries though.
“This surging demand for plant-based alternatives represents a growing threat to local demand for meat and dairy products, which will, in turn, affect the long-term viability of the Australian meat-processing industry,” Caldwell explains.
There’s not a lot of great data on vegetarianism in Australia, but 2016 research by Roy Morgan found more than two million people identify as vegetarians, up sharply from 2012.
Researchers found those living in inner city and urban areas are driving the trend.
Further, according to Euromonitor research from last year, Australia and New Zealand are the first and third fastest growing vegan markets in the world, respectively.
Internationally, the rise of vegetarian and vegan consumers is driving strong growth in meat-alternative industries.
Last month APB, one of the largest meat processors in the UK, announced it was launching a plant-based meat alternative, citing changing market conditions.