As pandemic-related restaurant restrictions lift across the U.S., chefs and foodservice operators are refreshing their menu offerings and recipes. Plant-based proteins are one of the food categories they’re using to help update, reports The NPD Group.
Shipments of plant-based proteins from foodservice distributors to commercial restaurants increased by more than 60% in April, compared with the same month a year ago, when the category realized declines because of pandemic restrictions.
Shipments are up more than16%, compared with April 2019, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack, which tracks every product shipped from leading distributors to more than 700,000 U.S. foodservice operators, capturing detail on over 80% of the broadline foodservice sales channel.
Plant-based beef analogues, which represent the largest share of plant-based protein shipments, increased pounds shipped by more than 45% in April 2021, compared with same month year ago, and over 82%, compared with two years ago. Chicken plant-based analogues, a more recent category than beef analogues, grew by 82% in April, compared with April 2020 and more than 25%, compared with April 2019.
Another more recent entry is fish analogues, which grew more than 181% in April, compared with a year ago, and 78%, compared with two years ago, although still a small category. Classic plant-based proteins – like grains, nuts, vegetables, tofu, and tempeh – also experienced substantial growth in April, NPD found.
“There has been a lot of public discussion about plant-based beef and meat substitutes, and whether or not plant-based is a fad or a trend,” said NPD SupplyTrack president Tim Fires.
“But the fact of the matter is, chefs and operators see the plant-based protein category as a flexible option for developing recipes and menu offerings that taste good, and their guests enjoy," Fires added. "Plant-based is now a staple in their repertoire."