Beyond Meat will go back to plant-based chicken

12 May 2021

Beyond Meat will return to producing plant-based chicken this summer, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with company plans. Although there was no timeline for the impending product launch, the company’s Chief Growth Officer Chuck Muth told Bloomberg in March that a chicken product launch will be in the “relatively near future.”

This is not the first time that Beyond Meat has experimented with plant-based chicken as part of its product portfolio. In 2012, the company debuted its first faux chicken strips, even before its foray into burgers. Until 2019, the company continued producing variations of plant-based chicken, as both a ground “meat” product and then an iteration that mimicked animal muscles more closely, before deciding to pull the product entirely in 2019.

Beyond Meat will go back to plant-based chicken
Image via Mae Mu on Unsplash

In addition to retail chicken products, Beyond Meat also partnered with KFC in Atlanta to sell a plant-based chicken dish. When the menu item appeared in 2019, it sold out in less than five hours and led to an ongoing partnership. In January 2020, KFC tested versions of breaded Beyond Meat nuggets.

With foodservice tests presumably showing favorable results, Beyond Meat is ready to step back into retail. At the same time, it is no surprise that the plant-based giant is looking to chicken for its next expansion. In the U.S., chicken consumption has more than doubled per capita, jumping from 40 pounds in 1970 to 98 pounds per person in 2021, according to estimates from the National Chicken Council. Worldwide, those figures are even more staggering as chicken is second only to pork in terms of the most widely consumed protein globally.

However, difficulties with texture when manufacturing plant-based analogs have slowed the rollout of non-ground plant-based options. Bloomberg did not specify what chicken products that Beyond Meat will release when it unveils what it has been working on behind the scenes, but it is clear that this reformulation will be substantial as it was done out of the public eye.

In addition to a reimagination of its chicken products, Beyond Meat is also releasing a new version of its Beyond Burger in May. With its latest reformulation, the company is focusing on improving taste, which is stated to be meatier and juicer. Alongside a tastier product, the new Beyond Burger will have 25% less fat and calories than animal-based 80/20 ground beef protein.

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