KFC will provide its first plant-based chicken alternative nationwide on January 10 at its more than 4,000 stores. Beyond Fried Chicken was developed in collaboration with vegan firm Beyond Meat to recreate KFC’s iconic fried chicken without the use of animal products. Beyond Fried Chicken is available as a six-piece or 12-piece a la carte item, or as part of KFC’s first plant-based combo meal, which includes KFC Secret Recipe Fries (which do not include animal ingredients) and a medium beverage. The cost varies depending on the area.
“We couldn’t be prouder to partner with KFC to offer a best-in-class product that not only delivers the delicious experience consumers expect from this iconic chain, but also provides the added benefits of plant-based meat… We are truly thrilled to make it available to consumers nationwide,” stated Ethan Brown, Founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.
While the Beyond Fried Chicken does not contain any animal ingredients, KFC claims that it is not cooked in a vegan-friendly manner because it shares equipment with other menu items, including chicken. Honey BBQ, Ranch, Honey Mustard, and KFC Sauce are among the three dipping sauces available, all of which contain animal-derived components. While supplies last, the Beyond Fried Chicken is available for a limited time at participating locations around the country.
KFC’s Plant-Based Chicken
For several years, Beyond Meat and KFC (owned by Yum! Brands) have collaborated to develop a vegan version of KFC’s famous fried chicken. KFC tested Beyond Fried Chicken (in two formats: nuggets and boneless wings) at one location in Atlanta, GA in August 2019, and it sold out in less than five hours. For a limited period in 2020, KFC will expand the test to almost 70 sites in Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, and neighboring areas, followed by 50 outlets in Southern California. The California test locations were also a huge success, selling out of Beyond Fried Chicken in less than a week.
In 2021, KFC US President Kevin Hochman discussed the company’s continued interest in developing plant-based chicken, adding that the goal was to duplicate the chain’s famed chicken as nearly as possible without utilizing animal ingredients. With the announcement of the countrywide rollout, it appears like KFC and Beyond Meat have nailed it. “The mission from day one was simple—make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,” Hochman said in a statement. “And now, over two years later we can say, ‘mission accomplished.’”
Liza Koshy, an actress, producer, and creator, has been named the face of KFC and Beyond Meat’s co-branded “Kentucky Fried Miracle” campaign to promote the nationwide debut of Beyond Fried Chicken.
Beyond Meat’s Impact on Fast-Food
In order to enhance their sustainability KPIs and attract new customers who are increasingly searching for more plant-based alternatives, legacy fast-food firms are attempting to modernize in the plant-based direction. Beyond Meat has stepped in to support a number of these establishments.
Beyond KFC, Beyond is collaborating with other Yum! Brands-owned restaurants, such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, to introduce plant-based proteins to their menus. Pizza Hut will roll out two pizzas topped with Beyond Meat’s Italian sausage across the country in 2020, followed by a test launch of Beyond Pepperoni in 2021 at 70 sites in five cities.
For more than a year, Beyond Meat has been working alongside Taco Bell to produce a never-before-seen plant-based protein in the QSR industry. Late last year, reports surfaced that Taco Bell had rejected the plant-based carne asada that Beyond Meat had produced as part of their collaboration. Taco Bell, on the other hand, affirmed that their collaboration with Beyond Meat is still continuing strong, with plans to debut the revolutionary plant-based protein in the near future.
Beyond Meat also collaborated with Panda Express to create a vegan version of its orange chicken, the Beyond the Original Orange Chicken, which debuted in July 2021 in a few select locations in New York and Los Angeles and was well-received. Panda Express wants to expand the test to 70 sites across ten states by October 2021, and if all goes well, the vegan orange chicken will be added to the chain’s more than 2,000 outlets countrywide.
While all of these companies are important partners, McDonald’s is Beyond Meat’s largest client. The vegan brand is presently collaborating with the multinational fast-food behemoth on the development of its McPlant platform, which might lead to market-specific releases of plant-based goods including chicken, bacon, and breakfast sandwiches. The McPlant, a plant-based burger with a customized Beyond Meat patty, is the fruit of the relationship thus far. The McPlant is currently being tested in eight locations in the United States and will be available at all McDonald’s locations in the United Kingdom this week.
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