Panda Express Relaunches Plant-Based Orange Chicken Nationwide

Following a successful pilot last year, the faux poultry menu item is available for a limited time.

September 12, 2022

ROSEMEAD, Calif.—Panda Express is bringing back its plant-based orange chicken menu offering, Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, nationwide for a limited time, following a successful test run last year.

"Our team has been overjoyed by the undeniable excitement and incredible demand generated when we first introduced Beyond The Original Orange Chicken last summer as an innovative twist on our most iconic dish," said Andrea Cherng, chief brand officer at Panda Express. "After nearly 40 years of creating original American Chinese dishes, quality and innovation remain at the core of who we are. We're continuously exploring creative ways to present our guests with the comfort and crave-ability they can expect from Panda while appealing to their evolving preferences and tastes."

The plant-based orange chicken was first introduced as a limited launch across Southern California and New York City in 2021, selling out across several locations in less than two weeks, according to Panda Express. The company then brought the entree to 70 locations in 10 markets.

"We are thrilled to offer Beyond The Original Orange Chicken to consumers nationwide for the very first time," said Dariush Ajami, chief innovation officer at Beyond Meat. "By partnering with Panda Express to introduce new and innovative plant-based options that deliver the delicious taste and experience of their iconic menu items, we're enabling people to enjoy their favorite dishes with the upsides of plant-based meat."

Panda Express is the first national Asian restaurant concept to serve Beyond Meat across the U.S. To celebrate, customers who purchase a Beyond The Original Orange Chicken bowl online using the code “BEYOND” starting on September 26 will receive another free bowl with their entrée of choice.

Additionally, Panda and Beyond are hosting a traveling Panda Express Recharge Station pop-up at 10 college campuses in three markets, offering students free samples of Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, prizes and activities.

Panda Express says it will continue to serve other plant-based dishes on the menu, including Eggplant Tofu, Super Greens, Chow Mein, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Steamed White and Brown Rice.

Taco Bell recently announced it’s testing a new vegan plant-based protein option in Birmingham, Alabama, inspired by “classic Taco Bell flavors.” The faux meat is a proprietary blend of soy and pea protein and will be available in the Crispy Melt Taco and Nachos BellGrande, and it can be added to any menu item customers want to customize.  The protein is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association.

Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands announced a partnership with Beyond Meat in 2021. The fast-food chain said that the Beyond Meat product partnership will be available before the end of 2022.

Earlier this year, KFC launched plant-based fried chicken made with Beyond Meat products. The fried chicken was available for a limited time.

NACS Magazine explored the plant-based trend in “Plant-Based Food Takes Root.”

NACS is exploring the growth of foodservice and is looking for convenience retailer expertise. Retailers can participate in our Foodservice Growth Drivers survey to receive a complimentary copy of the white paper summarizing results of this study.

The 2022 NACS Show, October 1-4, in Las Vegas includes four education sessions on foodservice: Menu Optimization: Think Like a Restaurant, Global Foodservice Trends & Menus, Foodservice Analytics: The Recipe for Success and Gulp! Reinvigorated Dispensed Beverages. Register today to attend the NACS Show.

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