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18 May 2022

New research from Quorn and the Sustainable Restaurant Association identifies flexitarian trends that should be the driver of menu change

New research from Quorn and the Sustainable Restaurant Association identifies flexitarian trends that should be the driver of menu change

Meat free innovator, Quorn®, has commissioned an in-depth report for its hospitality customers in partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association. The report looks into what’s driving one of the largest foodservice trends in recent years, the plant-based movement, and how it has gone from niche to mainstream.

“With aspirational meat reducers making up 55% of the meat free market*1, we wanted to find out more about their behaviours and motivations when dining out of home, to enable food operators to attract and retain these customers,” says Phil Thornborrow, Foodservice Director at Quorn.

“We surveyed 2,000 UK adults who identify as flexitarians for The Quorn ChiQin Report. Younger generations are driving the change with 49% of 18–24-year-olds now following a meat free or meat reducing diet*2, but as environmental awareness skyrocketed in the pandemic and consumers of all ages recognised the impact of their meal choices, eating less meat is now a behaviour not a trend.”

The research found that the burger is still the top choice of meat free meal when flexitarians dine out, but there is a huge growing desire for more chicken like dishes, such as wings, strips and tenders.

“With flexitarianism gathering momentum and leading to widespread innovation in the food industry, meat free dishes on some menus can still be limited. This lack of variety is the top thing that puts flexitarians, and importantly the whole group they are with, off eating at a particular restaurant.

“The meat free burger was the first concession for many food operators, bringing in vegetarians and meat eaters alike, but now we need to evolve to continue satisfying this ever-changing audience of diners. This report is intended to act as a toolkit, filled with insights and tips on understanding the meat free market, that will help decision makers adapt their menus and stay ahead of the curve,” continues Phil.

Key insights from the report include:

  • 52% eat out at least once a week
  • 40.3% eat meat free/plant-based half of the time when eating out of home
  • Quality, value for money and variety of meat free options are the top three influencers 
  • 43.6% said a restaurant having environmentally sustainable practices/values was important when choosing a place to eat out
  • Reducing carbon footprint can drive loyalty and footfall. When it comes to sustainable practices 48.1% said they value a restaurant demonstrating that it’s reducing its carbon footprint.

Operators interested in reading the full report should email to request a copy for download.

“We recently launched Quorn’s new ChiQin concept and products to make it easier for operators to meet the demand for great tasting meat free choices on menus. ChiQin is perfect for our casual dining customers and highlights how Quorn can cater to those flexitarian diners who are self-professed foodies, looking for comforting, exciting, on trend builds on the menu.”

Juliane Caillouette-Noble, Managing Director the SRA, said: “What the findings of this survey confirm, is that restaurants looking to keep pace with diner demand should be reviewing their menu to ensure it features a range of dishes that appeal to a new generation of flexitarians, keen to try new dishes that help them make a positive difference. With almost half saying their choice of restaurant was influenced by its sustainability practices, operators would also be well advised to address their actions across all aspects of the business and communicate it to customers.”

Last year Quorn’s foodservice division’s relaunched to Quorn Professionals, with a bold new vision for the foodservice sector - Inspiring Chefs to Harness a Protein with Purpose. This will underpin the meat free pioneer’s ambition to tackle climate change by making great tasting food.

Phil adds: “Our new vision for the foodservice channel will focus on creating collaborative conversations about delicious food, to create a better future.”

The launch

To launch The Quorn ChiQin Report, Quorn hosted a private event with chefs and operators at Jones & Sons in London.

Chantelle Nicholson, renowned plant-based chef, hosted a masterclass on the evening, using Quorn’s new ChiQin products, some of which were paired with cocktails and mocktails from Jones & Sons in-house mixologist.

The masterclass was supported by a representative from Rubies in the Rubble - a condiment brand that shares Quorn’s sustainability values and is made using ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste.

All Quorn products are made using Quorn’s super-protein, mycoprotein. It is nutritious and sustainable like no other protein and has a texture close to meat. It’s extremely versatile and can be used as both the finished product or an ingredient, opening up a huge opportunity for chefs across all foodservice channels, to create delicious and sustainable choices for their menus.




*1: Blue Yonder, Brand Growth System: Initial deep dive – January 2021

*2: 3Gem UK 2,000 UK adults who identify as flexitarians survey, October 2021

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