KFC to test plant-based fried ‘chicken’

KFC will start testing a plant-based product produced by Beyond Meat that is supposed to resemble the taste and texture of chicken.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Yum! Brands)
(Yum! Brands)

KFC will start testing a plant-based product produced by Beyond Meat that is supposed to resemble the taste and texture of chicken.

The fried plant-based food is being tested at a KFC location in Atlanta, Georgia, with its debut occurring on September 27, according to a CNBC report.

While a number of restaurant chains, including Burger King, Burger Fi, TGI Fridays, Twin Peaks, Carl’s Junior and Del Taco have started serving plant-based meat alternatives, KFC is the first major national chain in the United States that specializes in chicken to give plant-based proteins a try.

Kevin Hochman, president of KFC US, in a separate interview with CNBC in May, said the company did not have any plans to test meat alternatives, but he added he had meetings scheduled with several major suppliers to learn more about plant-based protein products.

The company indicated it would consider customer feedback to decide whether the Beyond Meat chicken alternative would be tested in further markets or be part of a nation-wide rollout.

The signature bucket in which KFC chicken is traditionally served features red stripes, but promotional materials for the Beyond Fried Chicken displays green in place of red.

KFC is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, which is also the parent company of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

Beyond Meat is gaining interest not only from restaurant chains, but also from investors. The company launched an initial public offering (IPO) in May. Since that time, shares have sold at a rate of 487% higher than they did during the IPO.

However, around the time the IPO was announced, one key investor sold its shares. Tyson Foods, which bought a 5% stake in Beyond Meat in 2016 and furthered its investment in 2017, stated that it would exit its investment in Beyond Meat to develop its own plant-based protein portfolio. Tyson launched its Raised & Rooted product line in June.

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