ST. LOUIS—Panera Bread will bring in more plant-based foods, along with more high-quality, lean-cut meats and grains in its recipes, CNBC reports. The decision comes in response to the chain’s grain bowl debut last year, which has been its most successful menu addition in several years, CEO Niren Chaudhary said.
Panera’s goal is to increase plant-based items from 25% of the menu board to 50%. By 2021, customers will be dining on new plant-based whole food products like quinoa and edamame 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 said. Last year, Panera increased its breakfast menu and also started a pilot on a dinner menu.
For its plant-based menu items, the focus will be on whole foods from plants, rather than meat imitations. The chain already offers “100% clean” food without additives or artificial ingredients but now wants to cater to health-conscious consumers.
“We are going after plant-based maybe a little bit differently than the industry is going after,” said Sara Burnett, vice president of wellness and food policy. “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.”