KFC Is Checking Out Plant-based Chicken

If plant-based beef is here today, can faux chicken be far behind?

June 03, 2019

NEW YORK—The interest in plant-based proteins that taste like meat is on a roll, and even Kentucky Fried Chicken is taking notice, according to a story from CNN.

Plant-based protein products are being used by fast-food chains, including Little Caesar’s Pizza and Burger King, to replace real beef or sausage, and if the craze ever extends to plant-based chicken, KFC plans to test the product.

“We don't see chicken as the big trend right now,” said, Kevin Hochman, U.S. president, KFC. “But we are definitely looking at it in earnest and meeting with the big suppliers of alternative proteins to understand the market and where it’s headed.”

Consumers show an interest in consuming plant-based protein for both health and environmental reasons. By 2023, the U.S. meat-substitute retail market could reach $2.5 billion, compared with $1.4 billion last year, and the global market could grow from about $18.7 billion in 2018 to $23 billion in 2023, according to Euromonitor International.

If plant-based poultry “gets more and more mainstream and we think it’s right for our customers, we certainly would test it,” Hochman said.

Burger King will offer a meatless version of the Whopper nationwide this year, featuring patties made by Impossible Foods. Others, like Bareburger, White Castle and Carl's Jr., also sell meatless burgers.

Little Caesars recently announced that it is testing an Impossible pizza with a faux meat topping, and Tim Horton’s in Canada is testing three breakfast sandwiches with plant-based sausages made by Beyond Meat, Impossible's competitor.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is still exploring the trend. “We’re trying to understand it better,” said Steve Easterbrook, CEO, McDonald’s, noting that he doesn’t think plant-based protein is just a fad.