Yet fast casual remains a singular force in food service, one that continues to dominate the cultural landscape. So, a little more than a decade into its reign, we thought we’d check in on the industry: what do consumers want from a fast casual experience, what are they actually getting, and how can operators start to bridge the difference? What concepts most excite consumers, which seem passé at this point, and what can QSR and casual dining operators learn from all of this? These are some of the questions we set out to answer in our 2019 Fast Casual Food Industry Report.
When Beyoncé, reigning queen of all that is pop and popular, took over the world for those two weekends in Coachella (hereafter known as BeyChella), she had spent the previous months eating vegan, reclaiming her legendary curves less than a year after giving birth to twins. No, this isn’t just your humble blogger’s latest attempt to remind the world that he was there, witnessing the defining concert of our generation and falling in love (but, yeah, it kinda is), it is about the mainstreaming of plant-based diets.
Beyond Meat is moving beyond niche, debuting in two QSRs—Del Taco and Carl’s Jr.—over the last several months. Formerly restricted to Whole Foods grocery aisles and pretentious burger joints like Hopdoddy, the entirely plant-based burger patty (peas, faba beans, soy, and beets are the main ingredients), is quite popular. It counts Bill Gates and lifetime ‘it’ boy Leonardo DiCaprio as celebrity investors, to say nothing of General Mills, Tyson Chicken, and even the SPCA on the corporate side.
It’s a short week and still relatively quiet in the hallways, so we are gonna bet that not many of you have too much time to devote to your weekly market research fix.
As with burgers and fast food, there has been a recent plant-based surge in the dairy case, particularly with beverages such as soy and almond milk (though the dairy industry would prefer you reserve the term 'milk' for their products). Indeed, the global dairy alternative drink market is expected to bring in $16.3 billion this year, and when expanded to include dairy-free food alternatives like yogurt and cheese, the market is expected to be at $30 billion by 2024.