Top restaurant chains are answering the call for more plant-based options. A rigorous evaluation of the biggest 100 chain restaurants in the United States shows White Castle, Jamba Juice, Panera, Yard House, and Chipotle are setting the industry curve.
In GFI’s second annual Good Food Restaurant Scorecard, we evaluate both the number of plant-based entrees and how well these entrees were marketed to appeal to mainstream audiences for the top 100 U.S. chains.
With its addition of the Impossible Slider, White Castle now tops the list alongside Jamba Juice. Panera Bread’s myriad plant-based options make it a standout alongside Yard House, which offers ten dishes featuring Gardein’s plant-based chicken. Chipotle’s plant-based Sofritas and the veggie option for all of its dishes earn it a high score as well.
“Chipotle is proud to be a restaurant of choice for a variety of diets – including plant-based,” stated Caitlin Leibert, sustainability director at Chipotle. “In addition to our protein packed vegetarian menu items, we began offering Sofritas, our organic plant-based protein, nearly 5 years ago with much success. We want to continue to be a leader in this place, and are honored to be recognized again by GFI for our ongoing efforts.”
Since the 2018 Good Food Scorecard release, many other chains have begun to take advantage of the skyrocketing plant-based market and ever-increasing consumer demand. The biggest gainers over the past year include:
- Dave & Buster’s, which added the Impossible Burger to their menu;
- White Castle, which debuted the Impossible Slider;
- TGI Fridays, which added the Beyond Burger in their fastest test-to-table launch in chain history; and
- Chili’s, which debuted a Black Bean & Veggie Fajitas entree.
Others – like Carl's Jr and Del Taco – are testing the waters with plant-based options in select outlets or with limited time offers.
However, as GFI Director of Corporate Engagement Alison Rabschnuk notes, there is still plenty of room for trailblazing: “Plant-based burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have been hot on menus for a while, but no restaurant has yet featured a breakout plant-based chicken, seafood, or egg dish. The brands that launch these kinds of dishes first will gain a lot of positive PR and attention on social media and will open themselves up to new customers looking for more plant-based variety.”
For any restaurants looking to become a trendsetter, the plant-based market awaits. GFI’s Corporate Engagement team is ready to lend a hand.