Meeting the high demand for Mexican-inspired and plant-based eats

As diners prioritize health and social responsibility, great taste doesn’t have to take a back seat.
Photograph: Sigma Foodservice USA

As students across the country prepare to head back to college this fall, foodservice operators are preparing, too—for diners’ new preferences toward plant-based and global options. According to Technomic’s 2021 College & University Consumer Trend Report, 13% of students indicated they are following a flexitarian diet—up from 9% in 2019. Additionally, 36% of sophomores and upperclassmen say they are eating more vegetarian and vegan foods on campus compared to two years ago (up from 24% in 2019). This shift toward eating more plant-based meals comes from an increased focus on health as well as an increased interest in sustainability and eco-friendliness when it comes to the way foods are sourced.

Overhauling the menu to cater to new trends

For operators, the increased interest in plant-based options offers the opportunity to revamp the menu to cater to this and other new trends. Beyond plant-based eats, younger consumers are also interested in global options. Technomic’s College & University report found that 48% of students said they would like their school to offer more globally inspired foods and beverages. With Mexican dishes being especially popular, Mexican plant-based dishes are likely to be popular, as well—and operators don’t have to just replace meat with beans and call it a day. Instead, foodservice operators can sub in protein-rich, soy-based alternatives to chicken, pork and beef. Sigma Foodservice Plant-Based Shreds are gluten free with great taste, texture, and appearance, and are an ideal ingredient for Mexican plant-based meals.

Try them as a filling for tacos and burritos, a topping for nachos and tostadas and as part of any bowl meal—start with a base of rice or cauliflower rice, top with plant-based shreds and add all the toppings diners want, including cheese, guacamole, salsa and more.

Adding upgraded toppings and more to elevate the experience

Of course, proteins aren’t the only aspect of plant-based meals operators will want to rethink. Toppings offer diners the chance to personalize their meals, adding ingredients they love to boost the flavor and indulgence. For vegan diners or those who want to abstain from eating dairy, Mexican food can often be tricky because of the inclusion of toppings such as cheese and sour cream. Operators should offer plant-based/vegan versions of those, too—Sigma’s plant-based cheese sauce and sour cream more than fit the bill. And for adding luscious, rich avocado to a meal, operators can’t go wrong with Classic Guacamole and Avocado Pulp—or, for on-the-go convenience and perfect portions, offer 2-ounce Mini Classic Guacamole Cups, all from Sigma Foodservice USA.

The possibilities to go plant-based this school year are endless—to learn more about plant-based protein shreds, guacamole, avocado pulp, dairy-free and vegan cheese sauce and sour cream, visit today.

This post is sponsored by Sigma Foodservice USA