Panera to Unveil New Menu Items in an Effort to be 50 Percent Plant-Based by 2021

|Updated Jan 16, 2020
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Panera Bread restaurants across the US are committing to a new menu that is fifty percent plant-based, up from their current offerings which sit at around a quarter of the menu, Business Insider reports. In the coming year, the fast-casual chain will be cutting meat-heavy options from their menu in favor of plant-based eats. By 2021, Panera promises that there will be a vegetarian item in every category, many of which will be able to be customized to be vegan.

In January of last year, Panera added a vegan soup to their menu with their Ten Vegetable Soup, which features carrots, tomatoes, onion, celery, yellow bell peppers, poblano peppers, corn and Swiss chard. Panera expanded their plant-based options this past fall by unveiling their Warm Grain Bowls which, although they contain meat and dairy, can easily be customized to be vegan or vegetarian.

Daniel A Wegiel, executive vice-president at Panera Bread and their Chief Growth and Strategy Officer explained the addition of the bowls, saying that "Interest in bowls that feature an abundance of nutrient-dense, fresh, layered ingredients, lean protein, veggies, grains and flavorful sauces is on the rise. We believe this product is the best example of what we stand for when we say ‘good and good for you.’ Panera’s warm grain bowls deliver on consumer demand for options that are both hearty and nutritious, that they can feel good about, without compromise."

Panera's gamble on grain bowls paid off: Their fall launch was the best product launch in years, Forbes reported. Panera took this as a green light to expand their plant-based menu items, with their CEO Niren Chaudhary explaining that "The consumer response [to the grain bowls was] an indicator of how compelling our direction might be,” he said.

We look forward to seeing what new bakery items, drinks, sandwiches, soups and entrees Panera adds to their menu in their effort to make half of the menu plant-based by 2021.