Consumers in the UK want more meat-free and healthier options when eating out, according to a survey from Nestle Professional.

Surveying 1,000 consumers, ‘Balancing Plates: Navigating consumer dining demands in 2020’ found that 71% of diners would like more nutritional food on menus, with 58% stating they find it hard to eat healthy out of home.

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Sustainability of food is an issue consumers are conscious of when eating out, as 55% of people surveyed preferred restaurants with better eco-credentials, while 28% have been put off from going back to a restaurant because of sustainability concerns.

Nestle Professional savoury food category manager Rohini Alam said: “The increasing number of flexitarians in the UK reflects the need for more meat-free alternatives. The out of home dining sector has evolved over the past few years, but our research found consumers are still looking for more meat-free options on menus.”

Nestle has launched its plant-based product range ‘Garden Gourmet’ to give more plant-based alternatives to the out of home market. The new product gives consumers meat-free options that are also sustainably friendly for the environment by emitting less greenhouse gas emission and a smaller environmental footprint than meat-based products.

Alam added: “We’re excited to launch a truly innovative range of meat-free alternatives that push the boundaries of what vegetarian and vegan options can deliver. From our research, we’ve found that people can be disappointed by the taste or monotony of vegan and vegetarian options when eating out of home, so we’ve worked hard to make tasty, meat-free alternatives that can easily replace many classic meat-based menu items. The texture and taste of the products really make this a versatile and easy-to-use range for chefs.”

UK specialist registered dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine said in the report: “Without compromising on taste, meat-free products offer a healthier alternative. This mass market appeal that works for meat-eaters and vegetarians is an important step for the sector as flexitarians, who are looking to reduce their meat consumption, now make up the majority of consumers. Providers should look at creative ways to include these alternatives in menus, tweaking already popular dishes to meet the demand for healthier, more sustainable meals.”