Panera Bread plans to turn half of its menu plant-based

In 2021, the sandwich chain will offer its consumers new plant-based products in every category.
  • Vaishnavi Gupta Features Writer
Panera Bread

Panera Bread, privately held by JAB Holdings, is looking at adding new grain and plant-based offerings this year. The fast-casual chain’s aim is to increase its plant-based options from 25% to 50% of its menu. 

The new plant-forward menu plan comes after consumer demand has fuelled for more health-conscious options. The restaurant chain has a history of serving clean food made without artificial ingredients or additives.

In 2019, Panera Bread’s addition of grain bowls to its menu was the most successful launch in the last three to four years. Additionally, the brand sees a big opportunity in expanding its plant-based options.

Niren Chaudhary, CEO of Panera Bread, said, “In the first two, three months, we’ve sold over 5 million grain bowls.”

In 2021, the sandwich chain will offer its consumers new plant-based products in every category.

“In the coming years, we want to have more grain options for our consumers, more plant-based options for our consumers, and more high-quality lean-cut meats,” Chaudhary stated.

Whole foods: A healthy choice

Despite serving meat alternatives from Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, Panera will serve whole foods like quinoa and edamame.

As per market research firm Mintel, 61% of consumers believe that whole plant food, like beans, are healthier than processed meat substitutes, such as the Impossible Burger.

Sara Burnett, Vice President of wellness and food policy, said, “We are going after plant-based maybe a little bit differently than the industry is going after. Although faux meats are a long-term trend and they’re definitely a great solution for our guests or for some guests at different restaurants, as a transition product. At Panera, we have a plant-based, nutrient-rich and protein-rich menu. It’s about what you add to your diet.”

The chain also expanded its breakfast offerings, started testing a new dinner menu, and collaborated with DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats delivery services.

Apart from Panera Bread, JAB Holdings also owns US-based doughnut chain Krispy Kreme and UK-based “ready-to-eat” sandwich shop, Pret a Manger.