The Air Force is aiming high for healthier fast food options at its military bases.
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Airmen, women and families living on U.S. Airforce bases across the country will soon be able to order Angus beef burgers that are hormone, steroid and antibiotic free -- along with veggie burgers and the plant-based Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat. Florida-based BurgerFi was "selected by Air Force Services as part of [its] global initiative for enhanced food quality," the burger chain announced this week.
Under the partnership deal, Air Force Services will open up five BurgerFi restaurants on U.S. bases and serve menu items in its food hall-style cafeterias by the end of 2020. Airforce bases will also get a Saladworks, a Penn.-based franchise that serves made-to-order salads, wraps, soups and sandwiches. The healthier options are driven by millennial demand, chief of strategy and innovation at the Air Force Services Center, Mike Baker, said.
A younger, more socially aware demographic is in service, and the products and services that provided value to previous generations are no longer relevant.
“What we have attempted to do with this new model is really modernize our food and beverage platform,” Baker told FOX Business. “A younger, more socially aware demographic is in service, and the products and services that provided value to previous generations are no longer relevant.”
Indeed, in a food and beverage survey from L.E.K. Consulting that polled 1,600 eaters, 93% said they want to eat healthy at least some of the time, with 63% saying they are looking for healthy options at every meal. What’s more, 52% of organic consumers are millennials who eat 52% more vegetables than older generations, according to data from the Organic Trade Association.
“We looked at the food trends across the U.S., and we can all agree that quality food and a variety of food sustainability are very important to today’s consumer, especially the demographic that enters the military service of 18 to 24-year-olds,” Baker said.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, an international non-profit environmental advocacy group, ranked 25 of the top burger chains in the U.S. and gave them a letter grade based on the use of antibiotics in the meat. BurgerFI and Shake Shack were the only chains that got A’s. The other 23 on the list, including Wendy’s, Five Guys and In-N-Out got D's and F’s.
Having comfort food in a restaurant setting was also a motivation for reimagining its food partners on Airforce bases, Baker said. Food-spending on eating out has increased from 25.9% of consumers in 1970 to around 43.5% of consumers today, according to a report on the impact by fast food marketing on millennials by the University of Arkansas.
“We’re trying to bring a higher quality, and a more experience-based feeding platform; something that is different than going and grabbing a quick burger,” Baker said. We want it to be a wholesome burger; we want it to be a sustainable supply chain; we want it to feel like you’re still in your hometown when you go to get your burger or salad.”