LOUISVILLE, Ky. - KFC, the U.S. company known for “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken, is working to create a chicken-like vegetarian option for restaurants in the U.K., the New York Times reports.
Although still in the early stages of development, KFC hopes to test the non-meat offering this year and roll it out in 2019. So far, company officials won’t speculate about where the product would go next if it’s a big hit in the U.K.
In March, the British government released public health guidelines that advise overweight adults to eat only 400 calories at breakfast and then 600 more at lunch and again at dinner. The goal is to reduce the nation’s consumption of excess calories and cut the calorie content of certain much-loved foods by 20% by 2024. KFC has announced a seven-year initiative to lower calories, and vegetarian “fried chicken” is a part of that plan.
U.K. residents love KFC. In fact, The Colonel’s fried chicken is in such demand that in February the chain was forced to close temporarily when about half of its 900 U.K. stores ran out of chicken. Some members of the public were so upset that they called the police to report the incident.
The chicken shortage occurred when KFC changed delivery partners. The company returned to its original delivery service and printed a full-page newspaper apology to customers. All closed restaurants were reopened within a month.
KFC’s attempt to bring vegan eating to customers follows efforts by McDonald's, which brought a soy-bean-based burger patty to restaurants in Finland and Sweden last year; Pizza Hut, which bakes up vegan pies at U.K. locations, and White Castle, which has introduced a plant-based burger at 140 outlets in New York, New Jersey and Illinois.