The plant-based fast food boom reached Uruguay

Some 120,000 people are vegetarian or vegan in Uruguay, according to the latest survey carried out by the local NGO Unión Vegetariana in 2018. The trend to adopt this meatless diet is growing and in Argentina it already reaches 12% of the population, according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel report. In the neighboring country, to this is added that 78% of its population is willing to increase its consumption of plant-based products, according to a study carried out by Ingredion and the consulting firm Opinaia.

The large fast food chains are no strangers to these market trends and propose to vary their menu based on the demands of new consumers.

In this frame, Burger King conceived its “green” line. “Our star is the Veggie Whopper, the perfect match between the classic grilled flavor of the Whopper® and the new consumption habits of our fans. This line also has our well-known salads and wraps,” Mario Giménez and Eugenia Altez, Operations Manager and Marketing Manager, respectively, of Burger King, assured Café & Negocios.
Instead of meat, this burger includes a medallion of vegetable meat whose main ingredients are soybeans, wheat, vegetable oil and herbs. “This line is aimed at the public that is looking for healthier, vegetarian and vegan products”, the executives indicated.

But this is not all, in the coming weeks they will be launching two options of new veggie burgers. With “veggie gourmet and veggie cheese & onion, the idea is to incorporate new ingredients such as arugula and red onion, and also have an option with cheese and caramelized onion” indicated Giménez and Altez. The launch price of each burger will be $309 and, in combo, $419.

Burger King Veggie Whopper

Both references of the company confirm that Plant-based eating is a growing trend in the world and Uruguay is no exception. “It is a public framework that becomes stronger every day in the market and that Burger King must captivate with its different options and offers,” they indicated.

Asked about how the consumption of these products is at the local level compared to the region, Burger King executives asserted that “in Uruguay we are on a par with the rest of the world” and added: “In other points of the brand in the In the world, faster evolutions are being made with the incorporation of other innovative products that complete this line and that, in Uruguay, will soon be available to our customers, it is part of our strategy to renew our menu on a regular basis to captivate our customers” .

With fries

McDonald’s Uruguay also includes vegetarian options on its menu, among which its famous French fries stand out.
In this sense, the marketing manager of McDonald’s Uruguay, Guilherme Coe, assured that the firm with the golden arches has vegetarian products in various categories such as gourmet and mix salads, with options without meat and also with egg, suitable for for lacto-ovo vegetarians. “We also have accompaniments such as fries and side salad and all our dessert categories such as ice cream, drinks and McCafé cafeteria and pastries,” he highlighted.

McDonald’s Mix Salad with Egg

Asked if they plan to add new options for the Uruguayan market, Coe pointed out: “McDonald’s is always evaluating new menu options according to consumer tastes and as we do market research, new products could be incorporated.”

In turn, the manager highlighted that the commercialization of this type of product increased “mainly due to a post-pandemic recovery, when we compare the year 2021 with the year 2020, which was the most impacted.”

From Uruguay

Fast food suitable for vegetarians and vegans also developed in the local market. “We were born as a delivery from home to all of Montevideo,” Jonathan Vilar, co-founder of Guacamole, tells Café & Negocios, a local company that was born in Lezica and currently has two stores, one in the Center and another recently opened in Punta Carretas.

Vilar started the venture with Claudia Cardoso –his partner, also founder of the firm and who leads the culinary proposal. They are both vegan and they saw in Guacamole the possibility of filling an unsatisfied demand, for them and for many more: that of meatless and plant-based fast food.

“It is not what most expect from vegan food, like salads, we imitated the so-called ‘junk food’ in a vegan version, something that was not being done commercially”Villar stressed.

Milanese, hamburgers and scrambled eggs are some of the options that can be ordered both by WhatsApp and by delivery applications and can be found in their Galeria de London and Punta Carretas stores. In addition, in the restaurants they added cafeteria options.
The entrepreneur assures that the trend that was already incipient when they created the business is now absolutely consolidated. “For health, for animals and even for fashion, for us it is not a fashion but there are people who eat this type of food because their friends are vegan,” said the businessman.

Their star product is the seitan milanese – made with vegetable meat – and they recently released the “non-chicken” version based on tofu. The main ones can be accompanied with a side of French fries, rustic potatoes or onion rings and in combo, with a drink, they have an average price of $450.

In the future, the company is committed to diversifying its offer to reach the vegan and vegetarian public that does not want to eat fried foods and also consider more gluten-free options. “We have the idea of ​​expanding to more areas,” Vilar concluded.