A Veggie Burger for the New Decade

Ten years ago, veggie burgers were a relatively niche product. Largely consumed by vegetarians and vegans in years past, restaurant menus might have featured one sad, lonely vegetable-based option in a long list of beefy burgers. And this is only if it got it’s own spot at all – it was just as common to find veggie burgers as a footnote, an asterisk on the menu: Substitute a veggie patty on any burger upon request. Ask your server for details.

Those days of being a footnote are long over. Now, veggie burger brands have carved out a very respectable market for themselves, offering a wide variety of flavors beyond traditional (and purposefully protein-heavy) black bean or soy patties. With Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods dominating the field for meat substitutes, other brands are free to get much more creative in their flavor profiles because it’s no longer just about trying to closely replicate the satisfaction of beef. Strong Roots’ pumpkin and spinach burger, for example, is not meant to satisfy a carnivore’s appetite and turn them on to vegetables, nor is it trying to satiate vegetarians who miss the greasy sandwiches of their past. They’re only even really “burgers” in the sense that the contruction – patty, condiments, bun – is recognizable as such.

More than burgers, these new patties are an innovative way for vegetables lovers (regardless of their meat consumption) to enjoy their favorite produce outside of salads and side dishes. By replicating the look of a well-known entrée, these brands are giving consumers permission to allow vegetables to be the main event of a meal.

Qrunch Organics makes burgers out of quinoa, in flavors ranging from “green chile” to “spicy Italian”. The company itself describes its patties as “mild and nutty tasting”, suggesting that consumers try them with both savory (ketchup, eggs) and sweet (jelly, honey) toppings. This kind of versatility also distinguishes modern veggie burgers from patties of the past.

Hilary’s, a brand that produces allergen-free products, offers patties made from exotic grains like hemp seeds and black rice. They’re also full of leafy greens, delivering a hearty serving of vegetables with each helping.

While brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meats may color many people’s perception of the veggie burger category and make it seem as though brands are moving towards increasingly meat-like products, the reality in supermarkets today is much more diverse than that. Vegetables can taste like beef, but brands are proving that they don’t have to in order to be the star of a meal.

We have called out this trend on Instagram, where we are running a new series called #TrendTuesday. Follow Works Design Group’s account for weekly insights for a variety of categories from across the grocery store.

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