Mid-Atlantic chain Silver Diner recently added the Just Egg Benedict to its menu. / Just Mid-Atlantic chain Silver Diner recently added the Just Egg Benedict to its menu. / Just

Plant-Based Protein Is Breakfast’s Not-So-Secret Ingredient

While Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are jockeying for ownership of the plant-based burger market, restaurant chains are moving to replicate this vegan sales success in the competitive breakfast market. Just, a vegan food company that produces the popular Just Egg faux egg protein, is positioning itself as the company to beat in that category, having recently signed partnerships with emerging organic burger chain Bareburger and casual dining chain Silver Diner.

Bareburger, which already carries Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, launched a new breakfast menu item that incorporates both Just Egg and Beyond Meat and will be offered in all 34 U.S. chain locations by the end of May. Silver Diner is rolling out a Just Egg Benedict menu item at all 15 locations starting on Thursday, April 18.

The company has launched a number of restaurant chain partnerships in the past year, starting with a distribution agreement with Veggie Grill last July. At Anna’s House, a small diner chain in Michigan which launched a vegan menu featuring Just Egg in February, the owners have sold over 10,000 vegan dishes since the menu launched, plus thousands of sides of Just Egg, and saw 25 percent more engagement on social media posts announcing vegan menu items when compared to their other social activity.

“Excitement among foodservice operators, including restaurants, is growing,” a Just spokesperson said in an email.

The Lucrative Breakfast Segment

Breakfast is a growing sales channel across the industry, accounting for 21 percent of all restaurant traffic in 2018, according to data released in the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 State of the Industry report. That’s up from 19 percent in 2013. The growth is eating into lunch and dinner traffic, which both declined slightly in 2018.

Consumers are asking for more breakfast food outside of traditional breakfast hours, as well. 55 percent of diners surveyed in the State of the Industry report said that they’d order breakfast menu items more often if they were made available later in the day. While the consumer demand for breakfast grows, putting vegan items on those menus allows restaurant chains to capture a larger base of diners in that category.

Burger King, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, and Red Robin have all recently announced partnerships with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to bring faux burger meat to their menus, and Taco Bell is testing a dedicated vegetarian menu in select U.S. markets. With the exception of Red Robin, all of these chains are open in the morning hours, and if vegan menu items take off in the lunch and dinner categories it only makes sense for breakfast to follow.

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