As consumers focus on their overall health and well-being, they are doing so in very individual and personal ways – ways that best meet their needs and preferences. And when it comes to diet, with so many choices ranging from low-fat to high protein, wellness has different meanings for different people.
One dietary approach that is growing in popularity is gluten-free. Current research indicates that consumers are eating more gluten-free foods than ever before. The gluten-free category, experiencing growth of 136% from 2013-2015, reached estimated sales of $11.6 billion in 2015.
One product that checks many of the boxes when it comes to wellness, including pursuing a gluten-free diet, is beans. Bush Brothers, entegra's contracted supplier for beans, touts the benefits of beans. Beans have more protein and fiber than any other vegetable, are naturally low in fat, are cholesterol free, and are perfect for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. “There’s no question that consumers are interested in eating healthier and our product fits a lot of those needs. And regarding gluten-free in particular, we have been creating some incredible product formulations where beans are and they’re absolutely delicious,” says Erik Henry, Director, Food Service, Bush Brothers.
A BEAN FOR ALL DAYPARTS
Being able to feature a product that meets a number of Health & Wellness criteria and is versatile enough to fit into all dayparts is a huge advantage for operators. "Beans are one of those products," says Henry. “In fact, I venture to say that you will see beans really take hold in the breakfast daypart a lot more in the next 10-15 years. This is just the beginning as we’re creating a number of exciting breakfast alternatives including maple baked beans which tastes like maple syrup and is delicious enough to put over biscuits or pancakes.”
Beyond breakfast, beans are being incorporated into many popular dishes providing a better choice for health-conscious consumers. In addition to being showcased in delicious entrees, consumers will also find beans front and center when it comes to snacking. According to Henry, “We're seeing a lot of folks interested in eating healthier snacks: bean chips, bean crisps, and roasted fava beans and garbanzo beans – they all make for a great, nutritious snack.”
THE BOTTOM LINE ON BEANS
Use beans as a main course with a smaller portion of proteins.
There’s little doubt that beans fit perfectly into the consumers’ demand for healthier selections that taste good, too. But they must also meet the needs of today’s operators who constantly are looking for ways to increase customer satisfaction while controlling costs. To that end, beans are the perfect choice.
According to Henry, “I think when it comes to beans, the greatest opportunity for an operator is in cutting cost. Food costs are always a challenge for most operators, and they have to look for ways to reduce their food costs every day. Beans answers the challenge.”
Henry continued, “Our goal is to demonstrate to operators that incorporating beans into their menu in a host of ways will bring down their food cost, add satiety to their dishes, and will capture the imagination of consumers who will be more inclined to return because they know that they're eating food that is better for them and better for the environment.”