KFC and Beyond Meat will test plant-based fried ‘chicken’ in Atlanta

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If the past couple of weeks are any indication, it’s clear that the internet loves two things: Fried chicken and when mega fast food chains argue about fried chicken on Twitter. Such was the case when Popeye’s launched its first-ever fried chicken sandwich. 

Shortly after the company announced the chicken sandwich on Twitter, several fast-food chains hit out at Popeye’s which resulted in a social media field day for all brands involved. Chick-fil-A tweeted passive-aggressively. The wildly popular Wendy’s Twitter account threw in a couple of roasts. And everyone else was left debating which company had the best fried chicken on the market. Like all viral fast food debates, the attention paid off. Popeye’s and the sandwich has been doing gangbusters, spiking foot traffic in locations around the nation. 

There was one fast-food franchise that was on the sidelines, though. It was the franchise with some of the most famous fried chicken of all, Kentucky Fried Chicken. It seems that while Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A traded barbs on Twitter, KFC had a big announcement, and it didn’t have anything to do with real fried chicken. 

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KFC Buys Into A Meatless Future

Yesterday (Aug. 26), KFC and Beyond Meat announced that the famous chicken franchise will be the first major fast-food chain to launch plant-based chicken. KFC plans to test the Beyond chicken at one location, a KFC in Smyrna, Georgia, a city located slightly northwest of Atlanta. The fast-food company will offer either six or 12-piece nugget combos or six and 12-piece boneless wings. KFC will use the test to determine whether to roll out the plant-based poultry nationwide. 

“KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with. To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken, in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey,” said Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown of the deal. “My only regret is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment.” 

Fake Meat Priorities

Beyond Meat and its products have been on the rise since its IPO back in May. And along with Beyond’s main competitor, Impossible Meat, the two companies have staked claims to a meatless future with some of the country’s biggest fast-food companies. Beyond recently inked deals with Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., Subway, and food service provider Aramark. Meanwhile, Impossible linked up with Burger King for their Impossible Whopper and White Castle for Impossible Sliders. 

The deal with KFC, however, is a new chapter in the fake meat saga. Until now, Impossible and Beyond have typically only focused on imitation beef rather than chicken. The reason for this comes down to sustainability. Put simply, cows have a much greater impact on global warming than chickens. If there was a big-ticket item for imitation meat companies, it would be reducing the use and slaughter of cows for beef. But chickens also come with a separate host of problems, from poor treatment to diseases in rare cases.

It benefits imitation meat companies to focus on chicken, as well. And depending on how Smyrna takes to plant-based KFC, Beyond could be focusing on “chicken” a lot more.