Beyond Fried Chicken: KFC’s new menu item tastes like chicken (but is not)

The new plant-based option for fried chicken nugget, called Beyond Fried Chicken, will be added to menus across the country starting Monday, January 10, for a limited period. It marks the first case of a large national chain selling plant-based chicken products instead of the hamburger or sausage options that have become increasingly common, the chain said.

“It’s time,” KFC President Kevin Hochman said in an interview with CNN Business. He added that the chain’s customers want to “eat less animal protein, but do not want to give up comfort food.”

KFC, owned by Nam! Brands (NAM), said in a press release that Beyond Fried Chicken is “filled with delicious taste and the juicy satisfaction you expect from KFC̵[ads1]7;s iconic fried chicken.” The new product is for customers “who want to eat a little less animal protein, but who have not become vegan or vegetarian,” Hochman said.

Beyond Fried Chicken can be ordered in a combo meal that includes a medium drink and french fries or à la carte in six- or 12-portion portions. Prices vary by location, but start at $ 6.99 for six pieces and cost more for the other options.

KFC and Beyond Meat announced a partnership about a year ago to develop exclusive products for the fried chicken chain. Hochman said that it has taken KFC a while to create a plant-based recipe for its iconic chicken, but the collaboration with Beyond Meat has helped the brand create a worthy product.

“The taste is so good that they can choose it over regular fried chicken,” Hochman said.

KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken had a test drive in 2020 in select US cities, including Los Angeles, Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee. A first iteration, according to KFC, was also sold in Atlanta in August 2019.

There have been some “now adjustments” between the different versions, Hochman said, and the most important change was that customers wanted dipping sauces and to have it served as a nugget instead of a boneless wing.

Restaurants will receive Beyond Fried Chicken, which has already been breaded and fried, and employees in the store will fry it again before serving. However, the new menu item is not for strictly vegan or vegetarian eaters, because it is cooked in the same areas where chicken is offered.

Fast food chains have jumped on the plant-based meat trend as a way to bring in new customers, attract previous customers and build enthusiasm around brands. Companies also appeal to so-called flexitarian eaters who want to reduce meat intake for health or environmental reasons.

The chains have also expanded beyond imitation beef. Burger King is now testing out nuggets from Impossible, Dunkin ‘sells a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich and Starbucks (SBUX) has its own Impossible breakfast sandwich. This week, Chipotle (CMG) said it brings its plant-based chorizo ​​to nationwide for a limited time.
But perhaps the most anticipated item is McDonald’s plant-based burger, called McPlant, which is expected to launch across the United States sometime this year.
To Beyond Meat (BYND), the extended exposure may help to shock the undulating stock. The shares have fallen 50% in the last year. The latest earnings report from November 2021 missed analysts’ expectations, and the company said that there is declining demand for their products in both grocery stores and restaurants.

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