Serving flexitarians: what restaurateurs need to know

Whether it’s for health or moral reasons: the trend towards restricting and being selective about meat consumption is on the rise all over the world. This is an opportunity for restaurateurs to attract flexitarians and profit from this trend financially. METRO can help by providing the right product portfolio.


Marco van der Zijden from Rotterdam Trading Office B.V. and his colleagues have been watching the trend of flexitarianism for a long time now. Flexitarians, also known as ‘flexible vegetarians’, have specific requirements when it comes to a restaurant menu. According to the colleague responsible for the meat department, they present a real growth opportunity for restaurateurs and the food wholesale industry.

Flexitarians. facts and figures

Flexitarians regularly make a deliberate choice not to eat meat, fish and other animal products. There are a wide range of reasons for choosing this diet: to support your health, to protect the climate and environment and to support animal welfare.

• Various studies also show that the majority of flexitarians are female and belong to Gen Z.

METRO is tailored to flexitarians

Meat replacement products are an important way of winning over flexitarians. ‘Following the launch of our METRO Meat Alternatives in January 2021, sales have already grown by 62 percent in the second year, with the range being steadily expanded to include new products’, reports Marco van der Zijden. This includes items like METRO Chef Vegan Veggie Chicken Chunks, Veggie Vegan Soya Nuggets or Veggie Frozen Beef Like/Chicken Like.

Whether you are looking for alternatives to chick, pork or beef, we offer products that taste and look like meet but are 100 percent made from plant-based ingredients. ‘This allows flexitarian guests to enjoy the experience of eating meat but without sacrificing their health, the environment and animal welfare’, explains van der Zijden. However, since flexitarian food is not automatically associated with replacement products, METRO also offers lots of other products for vegan cooking besides meat alternatives, from fruit and vegetables to pulses and egg-free pasta, according to METRO’s global purchasing expert.

Flexitarian food for improved cost-effectiveness

In some countries, for example the Netherlands, plant-based ‘meat’ is already cheaper than animal meat. This trend is on the rise, including in other countries, reports van der Zijden. However, in the long term, restaurateurs should primarily feature plant-based alternatives on their menu because this is what guests want and are therefore prepared to pay more for these options. Marco van der Zijden´s assessment: ‘When it comes to their diets, guests care about nutritional values, sustainability and traceability. Flexitarian options are an excellent opportunity for restaurateurs to win over guests and stand out from the competition.’

Flexitarians: facts and figures

• According to a survey carried out by a Berlin-based manufacturer of vegan products, the number of Europeans making a deliberate choice to consume less meat had already increased by 22.9 percent in 2020. The top 3 countries for flexitarians: Austria (31.8 percent), Germany (29.4 percent) and Portugal (28.6 percent).

• An international study carried out in 2021 also demonstrated that 42 percent of consumers globally identify as flexitarians and are therefore creating demand for the production of meat replacement products. In Germany alone, production increased by 17 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year; meat production declined by 8 percent in the same period.

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