Leading consumer PR and communications agency Bastion Effect has partnered with Australia’s largest privately owned burger restaurant group, Grill’d, to launch its new plant-based burger range in a campaign which has seen Grill’d’s 137 stores nationwide go completely meat-free today, Monday 15 April.

The one day campaign – which will run in-store and across digital, social and PR – encourages more customers to go plant-based, a new consumer food trend whereby meat-eaters are increasingly substituting meat for plant-based protein alternatives driven by both health and environmental factors.

Grill’d’s meat-free initiative coincides with its recent launch of four new plant-based menu items and marks a key turning point for the company which turns 15 this year and plans to make 50 per cent of its menu plant-based by 2020.

Grill’d’s new burgers feature patties by Beyond Meat – a US-based company whose investors include Leonardo Dicaprio and Bill Gates. Using proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals and vitamins that are found in the plant kingdom, the patties replicate the taste and texture of a beef burger and are actually targeted at customers who eat meat rather than vegans and vegetarians.

People living in Australasia consume more red meat than any other region in the world but the tide may be turning. New national consumer research released by Grill’d shows that more than half of Australians eat less meat than they used to and more than one third say they would like to eat less meat if tasty alternatives were easier to find. Meanwhile, 83 per cent of us enjoy a meat-free meal at least once a week.

The plant-based trend is skewed to the younger generation with under 30s eating more meat-free meals than their parents. Grill’d’s research reveals that two in three of those aged 18 to 29 enjoy eating meat-free meals compared to less than half of those aged 50 to 65.

Decreasing the intake of animal products is the single biggest way the average person can reduce their environmental footprint. Interestingly, Grilld’s research highlights that younger Australians are more likely to eat less meat for environmental reasons whereas health is a bigger driver for their parents’ generation.

With more than 1.1 billion visits to a burger outlet in Australia in 2018, the plant-based trend is extending into a sector that is traditionally meat-centric.

Simon Crowe, Founder and Managing Director of Grill’d, has seen these new consumer food habits gathering momentum first-hand over the last five years and realised the restaurant group needed to evolve to meet consumer demand.

“Sales of Grill’d’s meat-free burgers grew more than 100 per cent in the past year alone. The biggest increase we’ve seen is in the number of meat-eaters who are now choosing meat alternatives – especially in the under 30s age group. Whether it’s for health reasons, animal rights or climate change; the demand is very real,” said Crowe.

“We genuinely believe plant-based alternatives will form a huge part of the future of burgers, especially with our new menu selection of Beyond Burgers that taste just like beef. That’s why we are encouraging all our customers to go meat free with us this Monday and try out our new plant-based menu,” he said.

Bastion Effect CEO Richard Chapman said the Grill’d brand is an example of an entrepreneurial success story that, after 15 years of business, continues to innovate through listening to its customers.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Grill’d in its 15th year at such an exciting time for the business. We think going meat-free for one day across Grill’d’s national store footprint is a huge way for the business to really show Australians how dedicated the team is to innovating and evolving their menu in line with customers’ changing food preferences,” said Chapman.

The meat-free menu line-up fit for a carnivore includes:

  1. Beyond Simply, Beyond Meat patty with salad, relish and herbed mayo
  2. Beyond Garden, Beyond Meat patty with beetroot, tasty cheese, avocado, salad, relish and herbed mayo
  3. Beyond Chipotle, beyond meat matter with jalapenos, chipotle mayo and salad
  4. Beyond Crispy Bacon & Cheese, Beyond Meat patty with crispy bacon, tasty cheese, salad, relish and herbed mayo