LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky Fried Chicken announced on Jan. 29 that two new cities will be able to test the Beyond Fried Chicken products from Beyond Meat.
KFC, a Yum! Brands subsidiary, will expand its meat alternative test to select restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding areas through Feb. 23 or while supplies last.
The company said it has a “overwhelmingly successful test launch” in Atlanta in summer 2019. KFC was the first national QSR to introduce plant-based chicken with Beyond Meat.
“The iconic flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken is one that has never been replicated, despite many imitations, until now,” said Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer, KFC U.S. “We’ve really pushed the limits to develop plant-based chicken that I think will have KFC and plant-based protein fans saying, ‘That’s finger lickin’ good.’”
After the first test, both companies looked at additional improvements to the Beyond Fried Chicken, including changing the recipe to make it look and taste more like the original KFC fried chicken.
“The response in Atlanta continues to underscore the growing consumer demand for high-quality, delicious plant-based meats,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat founder and CEO. “Together with KFC’s team, we have created a plant-based chicken that looks, tastes and pulls apart like a chicken breast. I am very proud of what our R&D teams have accomplished and look forward to continuing to lead the charge on plant-based chicken.”
Beyond Fried Chicken will come with dipping sauces like KFC’s signature Finger Lickin’ Good sauce or tossed in one of three sauce options: Honey BBQ, Buffalo or Nashville Hot. Offers will range from four to 12-piece a la carte and combo options.
KFC joined a growing group of foodservice chains entering the plant-based protein arena. Carl’s Jr., Dunkin’, A&W, Del Taco, Tim Horton’s, Hardee’s and Subway are just some of the restaurants that have partnered with Beyond Meat, while Burger King, White Castle, Red Robin and others offer vegan options from rival Impossible Foods.
Beyond Meat began developing plant-based meat 10 years ago and has since introduced several products across its beef, pork and poultry platforms. Beyond Chicken Strips, its first product, launched in 2013.
The company pulled the product from grocery shelves earlier this year after deciding its vegan chicken didn’t meet the same standards as other popular products like the Beyond Burger or Beyond Sausage.
The news of KFC’s expanded test comes just days after Tim Hortons pulled all remaining Beyond Meat products from locations in Ontario and British Columbia. The coffee and donuts chain, which introduced Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches and a Beyond Meat burger last summer, cut the plant-based items from all other stores outside of the two provinces in September.
A spokesperson for the Restaurant Brands International subsidiary said meatless options failed to catch on with consumers.
“We introduced a plant-based protein as a limited time offer and to test the interest of our guests in having this alternative available,” the spokespersons said. “Ultimately, our guests choose to stay with the meat option in their breakfast sandwiches. We may offer plant-based alternatives again in the future, but we have removed it from the menu for now.”