The push for plant-based continues as operators escalate goals

Foodservice providers have been upping their commitments to plant-centric fare in recent months.
Major vendors have announced stepped-up goals around plant-based fare. / Photo: Shutterstock

Meatless offerings continue to climb on menus.

In an effort to impact the planet (and their bottom lines), foodservice operators across the country are serving growing proportions of plants.

Major vendors have announced stepped-up goals around plant-based fare of late, including Sodexo, which said last week that half of its menus on college campuses will be plant-based by 2025. This escalates an aim the company announced last April, when it said its higher-ed menus would be 42% plant-based by 2025.

Though colleges and their customers are leaning into plant-based dishes, this push is extending to other noncommercial segments as well.  

K-12 provider Southwest Foodservice Excellence said it plans to boost its plant-based offerings by 10% by the end of next year. To that end, the company’s chefs will have access to a plant-based workshop led by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) that will go over the value of meatless options and techniques for preparing them.

“As innovators in the K-12 nutrition space, we recognize that the need for plant-based menus has never been more important for students and staff,” Monty Staggs, CEO of Southwest Foodservice Excellence, said in a press release, adding that “our teams want to create those moments where students feel supported in going outside their comfort zone, trying something new and discovering their new favorite food at school.

Whitsons Culinary Group, also focused on the K-12 segment, aims to make one-third of its menus plant-based by 2025, and beginning next school year, will require its accounts to make one out of every four meals offered plant-based.

In healthcare, growing acceptance of the concept of food as medicine is fueling efforts to put plants at the center of the plate.

At NYC Health + Hospitals, where foodservice is run by Sodexo, an initiative to make plant-based options the default choice for patients has seen a great deal of success, according to the dining team. Patients at the 11 hospitals have taken to the plant-based dishes, choosing them 50 to 60% of the time, and satisfaction is upwards of 90%.

In addition, each plant-based meal is about 59 cents cheaper to produce, Sodexo’s Samantha Morgenstern told FSD.



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