In 2019, Kentucky Fried Chicken began testing a plant-based chicken alongside Beyond Meat. Their first release in Atlanta, GA, was so popular that it sold out within five hours. After this success, KFC expanded its testing to include 70 additional locations around Nashville and Charlotte. 50 more sites were added in California later in the year. All were wildly successful and sold out quickly.
Beyond KFC Goes Nationwide
Now, the wait for the rest of the United States is finally over. On Monday, January 10, 2022, Kentucky Fried Chicken released a plant-based Beyond Meat chicken option in all of its’ 4,000 locations nationwide.
For a limited time, KFC will be offering Beyond Fried Chicken. Consumers can buy the plant-based chicken nuggets in 6 pieces or 12 pieces a la carte, or you can opt for the combo meal, which includes their plant-based Secret Recipe Fries and a medium drink. Sales will determine if it becomes a permanent menu item.
The company states that while the recipes for Beyond Fried Chicken and the Secret Recipe Fries are fully vegan, the way they are prepared may not be. For now, the plant-based products are fried in shared fryers, which increases the possibility of cross-contamination with meat and animal by-products.
The Plant-Based Revolution
Beyond Meat already has numerous products in thousands of grocery stores and restaurants. The KFC launch marks “the first — and biggest —nationwide rollout of plant-based poultry at a major chicken chain.” Earlier this year they also partnered with Panda Express to release a vegan orange chicken. The Beyond Meat orange chicken was introduced in 70 test locations across ten states. If the plant-based option continues to do well, Panda Express has plans to add the item to its more than 2,000 locations nationwide.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is not the only restaurant chain owned by Yum! Brands to partner with Beyond Meat. Pizza Hut launched a pizza topped with Beyond Meat’s Italian sausage nationwide in 2020. In 2021, they launched Beyond Pepperoni at 70 locations across five cities. Taco Bell has been working with Beyond Meat to develop new plant-based products for its menu.
Beyond Meat is also partnering with McDonald’s. Over the last three years, the two companies have been working to develop the McPlant platform. Plant-based menu items could include chicken, bacon, and breakfast sandwiches. Their first release, the McPlant burger, is being tested at eight United States locations.
The Future Is Green
These partnerships are “a sign of the fast-food sector’s continued interest in plant-based meat alternatives.” Kevin Hochman, CEO of KFC, has this to say: “We do think that ultimately this idea of more and more plant-based protein being consumed is a fait accompli. It’s going to happen; it’s really about when.” Plant-based options are steadily becoming more and more popular in the food and restaurant industry, and many companies, Beyond Meat included, are stepping up to the challenge.
And it isn’t just fast-food chains that have begun adding more plant-based options. Just this week, AMC announced that they would start serving Impossible Meat’s Impossible Nuggets at most of their theatre locations in January.