By Amit Tewari, Founder/CEO of Soul Burger
There is something very special happening at this moment. Throughout the food industry, we are seeing widespread adoption of plant-based meats and custom plant-based menus. What began as a novelty is now firmly in the minds of most food operators.
In Feb 2019 Simon Crowe, the founder of Grill’d (a burger chain with 138 restaurants) told AFR that Grill’d would release *four*new plant-based meat burgers and are planning for *half* their menu to being plant-based by end of next year. Let. This. Sink. In.
Ribs and Burger, another chain with a national presence, announced they will be releasing the Beyond Burger on their menus from March 11th.
I believe this is happening because pioneer brands in the plant-based meat space are showing the larger operators that plant-based proteins are serious, exciting, the future, and part of a global change. The incumbent operators want to hop on to avoid missing the innovation train.
I believe the first major breakthrough in plant-based protein has been around innovation in taste, texture and experience. And I think the second major breakthrough *has* to happen in pricing.
I’ve compiled a list of questions and answered them below to communicate how and why our menu is changing. The SB Team truly hopes you *love* the new menu and, by the end of this longer blog post, understand the direction we want to drive the plant-based industry toward.
Accessibility. We want our menu to to be accessible to the most amount of people. And after doing some serious market research over the last 6 months, we’ve seen two large concerns come up: Price and Health/Transparency. And we’re going to address both in a phenomenal way.
Our mission from day one has been to popularise plantbased protein. I believe this is one of the most effective things we can do today to help solve a plethora of global problems. After seeing the explosion of plantbased proteins and the corresponding reduction in meat intake, I’m more convinced than ever this is true. There are direct cases of large food brands adopting plant-based options after seeing some of our local success in Sydney. Its ridiculously exciting and motivating. This is a moment in history where plant-based proteins are going mainstream!
One of the more important things we can do is set the mark that gourmet plant-based meat burgers will no longer start at $14. We want them on equal footing with their animal-based counterparts. And we’re going to do it without compromising the taste.
There’s an expression in entrepreneurship that goes something like, “some companies work really hard trying to increase their prices, and others work really hard trying to decrease their prices.” We are firmly in the second camp. For plant-based protein to have a maximal societal impact, it must be accessible and we must lose the perception that it’s expected and acceptable for it to be 30% more expensive than animal products.
We’ve worked really hard to make these margins work. I’ve sat down with our suppliers, distributors, importers and manufacturers. We’ve conveyed our intense desire to reduce prices for customers and make plant-based proteins higher value for money. We want to lead the market in this direction as it begins mainstream adoption. Our partners have reciprocated and together we’re looking at up 20% reductions in protein costs. We’ve also decided to separate our in-store prices from our delivery group (UberEats, Menulog and Deliveroo) prices so our in-store customers no longer have to cover the cost of the 30% commissions these groups take.
I want SB to lead the *second* revolution in plant-based food after taste innovation. And that is price accessibility. I hope our menu and offering forces others in the plant-based space, and brands stepping into the space, to follow suit and push their own prices down so we can compete, as an industry, with our animal-based counterparts.The 30% price tax for plantbased foods has got to go.
Aside from price, we want transparency in our food. We want our customers to know exactly what plantbased meat is, why its better than animal-based meat, and why it tends to be a healthier option. Almost everyone wants to know what they’re eating and the process behind the food. This is something we’re going to focus on.
We’re working with different groups to produce micro and macronutrients for all our foods, to have calorie contents accessible for everyone to make informed choices, to reduce refined sugars in our offerings and to provide an array of gluten-free and lower-carb options. We want our food to appeal to the most amount of people, and we want them to be comfortable that they are putting something nutritious in their body.
We’re bringing back some favourites that our passionate customers have been calling for. Our Brioche will be back as a white bread option and we’ll have a delicious apple slaw for our Southern Fried Chicken. We are working with local exciting plant-based manufacturers like vEEF and CoYo, and global innovation giants like Beyond Meat and Gardein.
For the newer options, the Beyond Sausage and Beyond 2.0 (which will feature in our Beyond Burger) is phenomenal. Our shakes made with CoYo ice-cream are ridiculously good, as are the new range of salads with gardein proteins and sticky buffalo wings. The new Portuguese Fried Chicken is officially my favourite burg.
March 15th. Get ready!