Panera Bread is the perfect option for a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eating Well website recently had a conversation with Sara Burnett who is Panera’s vice president of wellness and food policy.
They talked about the new Food Positivity initiative and learned the company has taken a decision to make half of its menu plant-based in the coming years.
“We already have a lot of plant-based offerings to begin with.In fact, 25% of our entrees are plant-based,” Burnett says.
“We made some big changes with our Clean Food initiative several years ago, eliminating artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, sweeteners and colors from artificial sources entirely.Now we are starting to see a real shift towards choosing progress over perfection, focusing on wellness rather than dieting and restriction.
The company is now focusing on its Food Positivity campaign and switched gears from emphasizing “clean food” as the term “clean eating” which is often associated with restrictive dieting.
“After surveying our customers, we learned two things,” Burnett says.
“The first was that 47% of customers want to eat less meat.And these are mostly people who aren’t identifying themselves as vegan, vegetarian or even flexitarian—they just know they should consume less. The second was that this motivation to eat less meat was coming first from a place of improved personal health, then for sustainability and animal cruelty purposes.
Panera’s first plan in achieving a 50% plant-based menu is having at least one plant-based item in every menu category by 2021. Burnett says the company is seeing great progress with their new grain bowls and vegetarian soups and is now focusing on what the customers will actually like to have again.
“While 25% of our current entrees are plant-based, 60% of our menu can actually be plant-based by making just one customization,” Burnett says.
Panera’s packaging is also free of chemicals and other harsh ingredients and they have been serving up vegetarian and vegan options long before these new plant alternatives entered the market.
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