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KFC will test Beyond Meat plant-based chicken



Colonel Sanders will soon be serving vegan fried chicken to see if the customers think his fingers are good.

KFC will be testing plant-based fried chicken from Beyond Meat on Tuesday at a restaurant in Atlanta.

The test makes subsidiary Yum Brands the first national fast food chain in the US to introduce a Beyond chicken item, beating Popeyes and Chick-fil-A. Beyond pulled its vegan chicken – the company's first product ̵

1; off the shelves of grocery stores earlier this year after deciding it wasn't up to standards.

KFC has been mulling vegan fried chicken for months. Kevin Hochman, the head of KFC's U.S. division, said in an interview in May that the chain had no plans to test vegan alternatives, but he had meetings scheduled with several major suppliers to learn more about meat-free meat.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based company said they would consider customer feedback to determine the next step. Should KFC decide on a broader test or a nationwide rollout, a Kentucky fried plant-based chicken could lead more US customers to their stores to try it for themselves.

In recent quarters, most of KFC's growth has come from its international operations in the midst of tough competition from Chick-fil-A and others on the domestic market. China accounts for 27% of sales, while the United States makes up about 17%. After a five-year turnaround, KFC expects an annual net gain on American restaurants for the first time since 2014. By the end of 2018, the chain had slightly more than 4,000 locations in the United States

The alternative meat strategy has worked for other restaurant chains that have chosen to include vegan meat from Beyond or its rival Impossible Foods. Customers who buy meat substitutes from Beyond and Impossible are largely flexitarians, people who cut down on meat intake. Del Taco, which sells a Beyond Taco, saw sales in the same store return to growth after introducing the vegetarian menu item.

Tension over the meat replacement market has driven investors' interest in Beyond. The company, which was released in May, has seen the stock soar as high as $ 234.90 per share. However, in the midst of broader market declines, trade tensions and recession, shares have fallen. Beyond shares are still up by 487% since the original offer.

Yum Brands' stock, valued at $ 35.3 billion, is up 26% this year.


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