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KFC Jumps on the Plant-Based Bandwagon with Meatless Fried Chicken

Still seasoned with the 11 secret herbs and spices of KFC, we hope.

(Image: KFC)

By Monday, January 10, fans of the finger-lickin’ good fried chicken in the US are in for a healthy treat as KFC plans to add meatless fried chicken to its menus for a limited time.

Care of plant-based meat company Beyond Meat, the first and biggest rollout of plant-based poultry by a major fried chicken chain will see almost 4,000 KFC branches serve meatless fried chicken, chicken tenders, and chicken nuggets to health-conscious customers.

“The mission from day one was simple — make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,” said KFC CEO Kevin Hochman. “And now over two years later we can say, ‘mission accomplished.’”

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But will it work? Hochman stays optimistic, especially since it’s prime time for people to embrace plant-based options. “This is really about where the customer is going; they want to eat more plant-based proteins,” said Hochman. “It’s January, so it’s a time of New Year’s resolutions and wanting to do something different in your diet.”

KFC’s new menu items are the latest outcome of the partnership between its parent company, Yum! Brands, and Beyond Meat. It’s already led to meatless options making it to the menu of its sister brands Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Thus, Hochman believes KFC’s new menu items, albeit available for a limited time, will be a sustainable success.

“We expect it’ll sell out,” he said. “Based on the speed of that sell-out and customer reaction, that’ll determine what our plans will be next. But our intent isn’t to be one and done.”

Hochman has reason to be confident too. Yum! Brands and Beyond Meat first tested plant-based fried chicken, which mimicked the taste and texture of a whole muscle chicken, at an Atlanta restaurant in August 2019 — and it only took five hours to sell out.

The meatless meat will be offered as six- or 12-piece a la carte orders, or as part of a combo meal that also comes with the plant-based Secret Recipe Fries and a beverage. 

Art Macky Arquilla

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