For decades, hamburgers without minced meat have been unimaginable. But vegetarian meat substitutes are becoming increasingly popular in many countries – the industry cannot ignore this.
The Burger King fast-food restaurant chain aims to become a pioneer in the meat avoidance trend: starting this week, the company offers a vegetarian equivalent of all beef burgers and almost all other meat dishes in its 750 German branches. “We want to give our guests a choice and expect everything to go very well,” said marketing director Klaus Schmäing in Munich.
According to widespread estimates in the food industry, vegetarian meat substitutes based on soybeans, peas or other plants – known in the trade jargon as “alternative proteins” – will grow in importance in the coming years. In a recently published international study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), three-quarters of 3,700 respondents said they thought alternative proteins were healthier than meat. “It is no longer a niche market, as seen in the supermarkets,” said Schmäing.
Burger King is the second, after McDonald’s, hamburger chain on the German and global market. Companies that have been focused almost exclusively on meat dishes for decades have been offering vegetarian or vegan equivalents of individual dishes for several years.
The company wants to move forward
Burger King now wants to go a step further with a strong expansion of these offers. “We are the first major company in the QSR industry to do so, and we have more than doubled our plant-based product range,” said Schmäing. QSR is the English abbreviation for fast food service.
“A big group we want to turn to are flexitarians,” said Schmäing. “Also, of course, vegetarians and vegans.” The nationwide market launch was preceded by a test at the Cologne branch last year. “It was incredibly well received,” said Schmäing. According to the manager, Burger King is also the first catering company in Germany to obtain a license with the European V-Label for vegan and vegetarian products. (dpa)