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KFC partners with Beyond Meat to offer vegan fried chicken

Will their one-day-only vegan chicken offering challenge chicken chain conventions?

Photo from Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat, the American meat alternative producer best known for its plant-based burgers, has partnered with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to release a line of plant-based chicken products. The partnership, which was announced Aug. 26 in a press release, makes KFC the first quick service restaurant to introduce such fast food items.

The new plant-based product line is called Beyond Fried Chicken and will include nuggets and boneless wings. The line will debut through a day-long test run in the Cobb Parkway KFC in Atlanta on Aug. 27. Complimentary samples of the plant-based items will be given away the same day from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm with the purchase of any menu item.

“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 founder and CEO Ethan Brown.

Meanwhile, KFC’s president Kevin Hochman has already attested to the product line’s quality, saying “…our customers will find it difficult to tell that it’s plant-based.”

This partnership with Beyond Meat isn’t KFC’s first attempt at capitalizing on the ever increasing global market demand for meat alternatives, having collaborated with the English company Quorn to sell a vegan menu item called Impostor Burger. Yet it was disclosed in the same press release that while the Beyond Chicken products don’t contain animal-based ingredients, they may not entirely be vegan since KFC will be cooking them in the same fryers where chicken is cooked. 

While the plant-based chicken products may not pass the strict standards of some vegan and vegetarian diets, some animal rights groups have already lauded the fast food giant’s latest efforts. One such group is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has once dubbed the fast food restaurant “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” and criticized its inhumane treatment of chickens.

“As smart businesses race to meet the sky-high demand for tasty vegan options, if this rollout of Beyond Fried Chicken goes national, it would almost certainly mean profits by the bucketful—and countless chickens’ lives saved,” said PETA  executive vice president Tracy Reiman. 

The news of KFC and Beyond Meat’s partnership has sent the former’s stock price up nearly six percent.

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