There was a 5% increase in the amount of negative reviews about vegan food from January 2018 to May 2018, according to the latest findings from Feed It Back, suggesting that the consumer expectation of this category is rising.
The customer feedback and online reputation specialist looked at reviews from more than 400,000 diners in the restaurant, QSR and pub industries.
Reviews were mostly critical of the lack of choice in vegan dining options, with guests reporting that menus were often limited and uninspiring.
Value for money was also a common concern among vegan diners, with guests discerning that they were often offered the ‘regular’ meal option with ingredients or sides removed to make it vegan, and still charged the same price.
There was also a feeling of a lack of understanding about vegan diets, with some eateries failing to recognise what foods are suitable for vegans. Guests reported being served meals containing dairy, eggs and meat. Alternatives to milk were also lacking.
With an estimated 3.5m vegans now living in the UK, up from 500,000 in 2016, operators are being encouraged to adapt quickly in order to meet demand.
“Hospitality is a fast-paced and innovative industry that is constantly evolving in an ongoing pursuit to stay relevant and create exceptional customer experiences,” says Feed It Back CEO Carlo Platia. “In this environment, it’s imperative that operators understand what is going on in the industry, but even more so that they actively seek out, encourage and track customer feedback across all available social channels, review sites and other platforms, so they can gain true insight on how to drive those crucial return visits.
“This year, veganism has been the dominant trend in the industry, but our results show that it’s not good enough for operators to simply ‘pay lip-service’ by putting one or two vegan items on their menu by stripping back existing dishes. Clearly, consumer expectation has significantly risen, driven in part by large vegan ranges and innovation across the major supermarkets, and the industry needs to focus menu innovation around variety and bespoke dishes.”