Although most consumers fit squarely in the omnivore category, a growing number of consumers are still interested in more plant-forward fare. In fact, 16% say they are eating more vegetarian options than they were two years ago, according to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood and Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, and 12% say the same for vegan options. That trend is expected to continue, with 23% saying they expect they’ll eat more vegetarian options in the future and 21% saying so about vegan items.
For grocery hot bars, the increased attention paid to vegetarian and vegan—and even plant-forward—options means retailers are wise to include more of these foods. Here’s four ways plant-forward soups elevate grocery hot bar offerings.
1. Healthy appeal
Plant-forward options—dishes that contain plant-based foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables or grains as the main ingredient—offer the nutritional profile that diners are looking for these days. Technomic’s Seafood & Vegetarian report finds that the No. 1 purchase driver of vegetarian or vegan dishes is consumers’ desire to have a nutritious diet, followed by the belief that vegetarian and vegan foods are good for them.
And they eat soup for some of the same reasons—28% of consumers say the reason they choose to eat soup is because they are trying to eat healthfully, and soup is a healthy option. With that in mind, it makes sense for retailers to offer more plant-based soup options. Creamy Tomato, Wild Mushroom Bisque and Organic Minestrone are just three of the many plant-based classics that Blount offers—a perfect trio for grocery hot bars.
2. Seasonal flavor
Many soups that highlight seasonal produce tend to skew plant based. For instance, Tomato Zucchini Soup shines at the end of summer, while Butternut Squash Bisque with Sage is perfect for the cooler months of fall. Three Bean Chili’s heartiness is great for warming a winter chill.
To communicate these options to shoppers, post signage on the hot bar noting that soups are seasonal offerings—for the 61% of consumers who say that they’re more likely to order soup when it’s cold outside, according to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad Consumer Trend Report, knowing that seasonal ingredients could help tip the scales even further toward purchases.
3. Global influence
Technomic’s Soup and Salad report finds that 34% of consumers overall (including 45% of consumers ages 18- to 34-years old) say they are interested in trying more ethnic soups. With many global cultures embracing plant-based cuisine, it’s easier than ever to find these types of soup in restaurants as well as retail hot bars.
For instance, offering Coconut Lentil Soup satisfies diners looking for a warming, curry-tinged option, while Spinach and Feta Chowder draws to mind the same flavor as spanakopita, a Greek, savory pastry stuffed with spinach, feta, onions and seasonings. With plant-based soups that offer a detour from the classics, grocery prepared foods areas can compete with local quick-service and fast-casual restaurants with ease.
4. Variety for grab-and-go options
For the 40% of consumers who say they are more likely to purchase soup described as plant-based, according to Technomic’s Soup and Salad report, easy-to-read labeling can be a key selling point for grab-and-go options. Package up single servings or quart-sized containers of soups such as Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Bisque, Fire Roasted Vegetable Soup or Vegetarian Chili, and affix stickers denoting the soups’ plant-based, vegetarian or vegan ingredients
Knowing a soup has those attributes may spur an impulse purchase for a shopper who’s looking for a quick meal to pick up for lunch or on the way home from work—especially since they won’t have to spend any time reading the list of ingredients to make sure it suits their needs.
Let Blount help you increase sales and profits by developing a hot-to-go soup program that uses carefully crafted, wholesome ingredients, layered flavors and culinary expertise. For more information on our hot-to-go soup programs, contact your Blount sales rep at 774.888.1300 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.