SOUTH AFRICA – In the wake of a 33.1% surge in fast-food consumption in South Africa since 2019, a new report by ProVeg South Africa sheds light on the burgeoning plant-based industry in the country.

With challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing load-shedding crises influencing consumer behavior, the South African market has witnessed a notable shift towards healthier, ethical, and environmentally-friendly lifestyles.

The report revealed that the vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian consumer base has grown to comprise 10-12% of the South African market as of 2023.

In response to this demand, major Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) have swiftly embraced plant-based options, offering exciting alternatives to cater to evolving consumer preferences.

“The report once again highlights significant opportunities available in the plant-based space within QSRs in South Africa,” ProVeg South Africa director Donovan Will stated emphasizing the significance of the report.

“…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 report, initiated in 2022 with the “Plant-Based Friendly Fast-Food Franchise Ranking,” evaluates the performance of major QSRs based on the number and variety of plant-based offerings.

The 2023 edition built upon this, considering menu presentation, labeling, and consumer perceptions.

All data was meticulously gathered and assessed by the ProVeg South Africa team, with ingredient verification conducted by the company’s head offices or restaurant representatives.

The purpose of the report is to gauge the status of plant-based options in the South African fast-food industry through a ranking system, encouraging QSRs to innovate and promote these products.

Despite gradual awareness and change, the report suggests that QSRs have numerous growth opportunities in the local market.

The ranking methodology focused on the immediate needs of the consumer, considering factors such as the quantity and types of plant-based dishes, their appeal to consumers, and how well these items are presented on menus.

Points were awarded based on the number and percentage of plant-based mains, side dishes, and desserts, as well as the menu’s labeling and presentation.

While the report highlighted the potential for growth in the plant-based industry, it also identified areas where QSRs can improve.

Notably, the lack of robust and prominent advertising campaigns for new plant-based additions to menus was noted.

QSRs, despite targeting a demographic where vegans and vegetarians constitute less than 3% of the population, are encouraged to invest in advertising to attract flexitarians and omnivores curious about plant-based options.

The report underscored that QSRs can play a pivotal role in promoting plant-based eating by collaborating with experts, like ProVeg South Africa, to maximize their market potential.

As the plant-based market is expected to grow over the next decade, QSRs have an opportunity to signal their progressiveness and align with evolving lifestyle shifts, setting the tone for the industry across South Africa.

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