Market & Trends

ProVeg South Africa Report Shows Significant Rise in Plant-Based Options in Fast Food Industry

ProVeg South Africa has released a report on the prevalence of plant-based options in South Africa’s fast-food and restaurant industry, offering in-depth analysis and ranking of major chains based on their plant-based offerings, advertising strategies, product naming, and more.

“The report once again highlights significant opportunities available in the plant-based space”

According to the report, fast-food consumption in South Africa has surged by 33.1% since 2019, spurred by challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and load-shedding crises in the country, which caused many people to turn to fast food due to power outages in their homes. In response to growing health, ethical, and environmental concerns, plant-based main dishes have seen a 16.67% increase in menus, though they still constitute less than 5% of the total offerings.

The rise in vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian consumers, who now, according to ProVeg, make up 10-12% of the South African consumer base, has prompted national fast-food chains to rapidly adopt plant-based options. The report’s primary focus was the number of plant-based offerings at major Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), providing insights into consumer perceptions and advertising efficacy.

Vida e caffè Veganuary offerings
© Vida e caffè

Donovan Will, director of ProVeg South Africa, comments, “The report once again highlights significant opportunities available in the plant-based space within QSRs in South Africa, from new products that still need to be developed and gaps on menus to be filled by existing products, to ways for outlets to attract more customers.”

The 2023 report assessed menus for plant-based offerings, including the number and percentage of plant-based mains, side dishes, desserts, and menu labeling and presentation. The ProVeg South Africa team gathered and verified data, consulting with company head offices and restaurant representatives, aiming to encourage QSRs to innovate, grow, and promote plant-based products. 

Advertising strategies and market potential

The report identifies a significant gap in robust advertising campaigns for plant-based menu items. With vegans and vegetarians comprising less than 3% of the population, there’s a misconception that investing in advertising for these options may not yield substantial returns. However, the report suggests that effective advertising can attract flexitarians and omnivores, potentially boosting sales and broadening consumer choice. A recent study from alt-dairy startup New Culture revealed that 80% of those interested in dairy-free mozzarella identify as omnivores, with flexitarians making up another 15%, showcasing a significant market potential within this demographic. 

Last year, ProVeg South Africa reported that 30,000 South Africans had signed up for Veganuary since 2019, with Will commenting on how most of the country’s population loves eating meat and could view eliminating meat entirely as a large sacrifice. However, he hypothesized, “Once they try a good meat replacement product, they’re at least open to trying to replace some of their meat with plant-based options.”

Based on the insights from the report, ProVeg South Africa advises QSRs to view plant-based offerings as an opportunity to showcase their progressive stance and alignment with contemporary lifestyle trends.  

The full report can be downloaded here

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