According to a new study from Technomic, more consumers now than in 2016 say they are following restrictive specialty diets. This comes from the industry analyst’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood and Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report.

Most consumers do not follow a specialty diet, but those who do will limit their meat consumption by classifying themselves with terms like “semivegetarian” or “flexitarian.”

Other findings from the report:

  • 71 percent of consumers eat seafood at least once a month
  • 50 percent of consumers eat vegetarian or vegan dishes at least once a month
  • Only 27 percent of those who eat vegetarian/vegan dishes say restaurants do a good job of providing options that taste good

There is plenty of opportunity to be had in foodservice establishments that appeal to these consumers.

“This desire for flexibility highlights the fact that dietary lifestyle choices are often not all-or-nothing decisions for consumers,” says Bret Yonke, manager of consumer insights at Technomic. “Semivegetarian and flexitarian diets appeal to those who aspire to eat healthier while still providing leeway to splurge on meat or seafood occasionally. To cater to shifting behaviors, operators can offer protein substitutes for certain dishes or create a handful of build-your-own options that give consumers an even greater level of control.”