A new report by ProVeg South Africa has found that the country is experiencing a plant-based boom in fast food, but that chains should work harder to advertise these healthier and more sustainable menu items.
Traditionally perceived as a meat-heavy country, South Africa is experiencing a significant shift towards plant-based food.
In response to growing demand, South African fast-food chains have made efforts to step up to the plate. Such outlets in the country have significantly boosted their vegan options, the report notes.
Anusha Lakha, Corporate Engagement Coordinator at ProVeg South Africa and chief author of the report, told Plant Based News (PBN): “Many South African fast-food chains are definitely aware and active in navigating the plant-based industry in South Africa. However, there is still plenty of opportunity for growth for all chains.”
Plant-based fast food in South Africa
The new report looked at the number of plant-based offerings at major fast-food chains in South Africa. Chains were awarded points based on factors like the number and percentage of vegan mains, sides, and desserts, as well as labels and the presentation of menus.
ProVeg South Africa published its Fast Food Franchise Ranking for the first time in 2022. A year later, the new report offers a more comprehensive picture. The food awareness organization says its report presents the current state of plant-based options in the South African fast-food industry, as well as offering details of growth opportunities.
The South African market has a strong appetite for fast food. Although for many this involves primarily meat-based dishes, the plant-based section of the market is growing. South Africans have long expressed willingness to try plant-based foods. In recent years, major chains have gradually increased the number of vegan choices in response to consumer demand.
Opportunities for South Africa’s fast food
Although progress has been made, the report also notes that “significant opportunities” remain. These include new product launches and gaps on menus that can existing products can fill.
Notably, a major focus should be finding ways to attract more customers, the report states. Chains can make the most of plant-based opportunities by “adding more main meals and desserts to their menus, as well as advertising their available plant-based options more explicitly for greater consumer awareness of their range,” Lakha told PBN.
Moreover, chains should think more about how they can appeal to current and potential consumers. To do so, they should pay more attention to how they present plant-based items on menus, the authors advise.
Given the popularity of fast food in South Africa, chains have “an excellent platform to showcase plant-based eating in an appealing and accessible way to the average fast-food loving South African,” the report states.
Making plant-based options more appealing
“The rise of plant-based food in South Africa speaks to a committed lifestyle choice,” said Lakha. This is “echoed by the rise in the flexitarian consumer, which makes up approximately 10 percent of the South African population at present.”
One way to grow this number further and make plant-based food more appealing is through “robust and prominent advertising campaigns,” ProVeg South Africa urges.
For example, new additions to menus should be widely advertised. A lack of coverage may be preventing potential customers from trying new options.
With the right ingredients, ProVeg South Africa expects the plant-based market to grow substantially over the next ten years. “Manufacturers, retailers and restaurants alike resonate with the shift,” said Lakha.