Beyond Meat, the undisputed heavyweight among new entrants in the category for meat replacements, has launched a new and improved chicken nugget at select restaurants around the country.
Image Credit: Beyond Meat
The company, which famously launched a chicken pilot with KFC, doesn’t have any of the largest fast food chains on its roster for the chicken product, despite previous deals with McDonald’s and the KFC pop-up.
Even some of the smaller chains that the company counts as buyers for its Beyond Meat burgers and sausages aren’t adding the chicken product to their menus, according to a report in Bloomberg News.
As Bloomberg noted, Maple Leaf Foods, Conagra Brands, and startups like Daring Foods and Livekindly Collective are all pitching plant-based chicken alternatives. And significantly, Upside Foods, the company formerly known as Memphis Meats, expects to bring a chicken breast made from extracted chicken cells to market by the end of this year.
At stake (or steak?) is a massive market. In the U.S., Americans consumed a record 122.75 pounds of poultry per capita in 2017 alone — and that’s only going up.
While it’s notable that Beyond Meat is ready to take its chicken nuggets to stores, the scale of its new campaign is not as meaningful as the products on offer in other stores. That includes the 9,000 Dunkin locations that sell Beyond’s sausage product or the 1,500 Denny’s locations that list the Beyond Burger on their menus, as Bloomberg reported.
Still, Beyond Meat’s noodling with a new nugget represents the most significant push by a plant-based protein purveyor into the restaurant market. And as a harbinger of things to come, it’s clear that consumers are ready to eat more chicken… or chicken replacements.