With the ProVeg New Food Conference just around the corner, we have an online event to whet your appetite. Here’s a sneak peek of the experts who will be joining us for our next New Food Hub webinar in which we’ll discuss The power of plant-based menus.

Plant-based options in foodservices

graph showing accelerated growth of plant-based restaurants
Source: ProVeg

In recent years, the food-services sector has been increasing its plant-based offerings in order to meet growing demand from consumers who are reducing their consumption of animal-based products. From independent plant-based restaurants to bigger chains such as the UK-based Wagamama (which pledged in 2021 to make 50% of its menus plant-based), having plant-based options on your menu is a great first step towards reaching your company’s net-zero targets. The next step is to optimise these choices in order to increase their appeal and boost sales.

The detrimental effects of the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis mean that companies need to be flexible and adaptable with their strategies. On 27 September, our experts will be on hand to advise businesses as to how they can best embrace plant-based options in order to win over consumers and generate some tasty profits. But for now, let’s hear their thoughts on how the industry has changed in recent years…

Meet the speakers

Claire Roper – Food Brands Marketing Consultant

claire roper
Source: Claire Roper

Our first speaker, Claire Roper, previously worked at meat-free giant Quorn Foods, initially in Business Development Innovation and then as Head of Marketing for the Foodservice divisions. During the course of her career, Claire has been responsible for some major brand partnerships with leading players in the industry, including KFC, Greggs, Harvester, Costa, and Pizza Hut. In her current role as a freelance marketer, Roper specialises in branding and communication for food brands across foodservices, direct-to-consumer, and retail brands.

How has the food-service industry changed with regard to plant-based options?

“Consumers are now demanding that plant-based menus are inclusive, desirable, tasty, and have variety. Ten years ago, it was a dusty menu at the back that got pulled out – if you were lucky. Now, it’s an everyday choice and something to be proud of and enjoyed by all. Today’s market is full of options, from breakfast to dinner, from delivery to fine dining, and chefs are embracing plant-based menus, rather than just doing it as a tick box. The industry is, however, facing challenges, such as pandemic recovery coupled with labour pressures, as well as rocketing food and utility costs, and uncertainty concerning consumer demand, as pockets are squeezed.” – Claire Roper, Food Brands Marketing Consultant

What does the future of plant-based food look like in foodservices?

“Simple easy-to-cook ingredients will become key, along with innovation in plant-based dishes to make them inclusive to all. New products and categories of products are emerging every day in plant-based foods, so the future looks bright in terms of more variety on the menu and even more delicious dishes. Sustainability will play a part as we all start to realise the impact the food we eat has on our planet and how we need to change this.” – Claire Roper, Food Brands Marketing Consultant

Lauren Spokes – Head of Sales UK Foodservice at Heura Foods

Lauren Spokes
Source: Lauren Spokes

Our second speaker is a self-confessed foodie, who fully immerses herself in the industry through her personal, social, and work life. Whether it’s blogging, writing recipes, or connecting with trending brands, her work aims to provide the food-service sector with healthy, tasty, and high-quality meat alternatives. 

She currently works for the rapidly growing Spanish brand Heura, which creates Mediterranean-inspired plant-based-meat products. By working across different channels, she offers customers a one-stop solution with the Heura range. 

As a consumer, it’s become the norm to see plant-based options on menus. Simply being able to grab an oat-milk flat white at your local café is basically a guarantee. It’s no longer a trend, but an essential part of the foodservices world.”

Lauren Spokes

Head of Sales UK Foodservice at Heura Foods

Dean Wilson Hartles – Director of Food & Drink Development, The Restaurant Group UK

Dean Wilson Hartles
Source: Dean Wilson Hartles

Our final speaker, Dean Wilson Hartles, is an experienced chef who has recently been promoted to Director of Food and Drink at The Restaurant Group. His new position allows him to have more strategic responsibility, driving partnerships, securing tenders for concessions, and shaping overall brand development.

Dean recently played an instrumental role in refining UK restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s’ food proposition post-Covid, working with an artisanal baker to improve bread products across the group, and overseeing the expansion of its plant-based offering.

Improving operational execution and reducing menu complexity has been a key focus for The Restaurant Group. To this end, Dean and his team have focused on innovation and identifying future trends. 

Have you seen the food-service industry steer more towards plant-based options in recent years?

“Massively. It’s like the world has gone vegan-mad since the pandemic, which is not a bad thing. Compared to where it was 10 years back, the product has got 100 times better and there are more options. This is now here to stay and will be a huge part of all our menus going forward.”  – Dean Wilson Hartles, Director of Food & Drink Development, The Restaurant Group UK

Register today

If you’d like to hear more from our experts and ask them your questions relating to foodservices, register for The power of plant-based menus webinar taking place on 27 September.

Our New Food Insights webinar series features engaging interactive discussions with industry experts in order to help food-industry leaders harness the power of plant-based foods and ingredients. You can find all our previous webinars on the New Food Hub. To make sure that you never miss a webinar, please subscribe to our monthly Food Industry and Retail Newsletter. 

Dive deeper

Interested in this topic? Check out our article on choice architecture in food services for techniques to nudge consumers towards more sustainable, plant-rich menu options

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