KFC will add plant-based chicken to menus nationwide Monday for a limited time, becoming the first national chain to do so, the restaurant said.
The fast-food giant initially tested the Beyond Meat product in August 2019 at an Atlanta restaurant, and the meatless item sold out in less than five hours. Then in early 2020, the product was piloted in more than 70 locations in Charlotte, Nashville, and Southern California.
“The mission from day one was simple – make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,” KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman said in a statement. “And now over two years later we can say, ‘mission accomplished.’”The Beyond Fried Chicken will be available in either six or 12 pieces a la carte or as a combo with fries and a drink and honey barbecue, ranch, honey mustard, and KFC dipping sauces. Prices vary based on location, but will start at $6.99.
Like most meat alternatives in the quick-service space, KFC's plant-based chicken is not prepared in a vegan/vegetarian manner since it shares equipment with regular chicken products. Instead, the menu item targets flexitarians, or those that lean toward a vegetarian diet, but still eat meat.
“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,” Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement. “We are truly thrilled to make it available to consumers nationwide.”
The plant-based movement gained momentum throughout 2021 among major quick-service players. This past summer, Wendy's briefly tested a new Spicy Black Bean Burger in Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville, Florida. A few months later, Burger King announced that it was testing Impossible Nuggets in Des Moines, Iowa, Boston, and Miami after rolling out the Impossible Whopper nationwide in 2019 and the Impossible Croissan'wich sandwich in 2020.
In November, McDonald's started testing its Beyond Meat McPlant Burger at eight restaurants. BTIG analyst Peter Saleh said the pilot is likely to expand to 700 restaurants by February or March after performing "exceptionally well" in the small-scale test. And to kick off the new year, Chipotle revealed that Plant-Based Chorizo is available for a limited time at all U.S. locations following a test in August in Denver and Indianapolis.
Bloomberg Intelligence, the research division of Bloomberg, published a study in August that noted the plant-based market could reach $162 billion in the next decade, compared to $29.4 billion in 2020.