Three-fifths (62 percent) of general-population consumers say they consume meals without beef, pork, chicken or turkey at least once a week. Among those who eat vegetarian or vegan entrees, younger consumers (45 percent vs. 30 percent of older consumers) are more likely to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. As demand for healthful options continues and the fact that Millennials are representing a greater proportion of the foodservice consumer, seafood, vegetarian or vegan menu innovation will become essential. 

Consumers consider seafood, vegetarian or vegan entrees to be more healthful than beef, pork and poultry options. In fact, 72 percent of consumers who increased their seafood purchases over the past two years say they did so because they are trying to eat more healthfully and consider seafood to be more healthful.

"Health will continue to drive the seafood and vegetarian menu mix, and it can be leveraged both to spur interest in these options and to benefit the concept as a whole, by broadening appeal, reducing the 'veto vote' and creating a health halo," says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Technomic. "These options also provide a point of differentiation that younger consumers look for as inventive, yet satisfying vegetarian and seafood items featuring on-trend ingredients to create a contemporary, unique and better-for-you positioning."

Organized into four sections, the Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report includes menu and consumer insights, trends to watch, and in-depth profiles of trendsetting and innovative brands. Findings include:

• The need for vegetarian or vegan menu items: At least twice as many consumers who eat vegetarian or vegan foods cook them at home (68 percent) as order them at any foodservice location at least weekly, including fast food (31 percent) and traditional casual dining (23 percent)

• Fast-casual seafood will grow: Emerging brands specializing in fresh, affordable seafood will continue to develop and find success

• Roughly half of consumers surveyed who may also eat meat say that vegan or vegetarian options are just as satisfying (51 percent) or filling (59 percent) as meals that contain meat

• The leading fish dish at Top 500 restaurants is salmon, though cod is a quickly growing fish variety on both limited- and full-service menus

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