KFC invests in the future of chicken with bioprinting

11 Aug 2020

Fast food chain KFC is working to produce the world’s first lab-produced, bioprinted chicken nuggets in partnership with Moscow-based 3D Bioprinting Solutions. The restaurant said that it is working toward creating a “restaurant of the future” where the company will offer options that are produced in an environmentally-friendly manner and are geared toward consumers looking for meat alternatives.

While the bioprinted chicken nugget is still in the development phase, KFC announced that it plans to test the prototype this fall at Moscow stores. There were no specifications as to whether there were aims to move outside of chicken nuggets in the future if the test is successful. However, the company said its goal is to replicate both the taste and appearance to the original KFC product and that “no other methods available on the market that could allow the creation of such complex products from animal cells.”

KFC invests in the future of chicken with bioprinting

This partnership strives to achieve the KFC signature taste by producing printed poultry that uses the same biological microelements as traditional chicken but produces the product in a less resource-intensive manner that “does not cause any harm to animals” and “has minimal negative impact on the environment.” KFC cited a study from the American Environmental Science & Technology Journal that shows cell-based meats use half the energy consumption of traditional options, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 25 fold and reduces land use by 100 times.

Although a meat alternative, this bioprinted chicken will not be a plant-based option for consumers as it is created from animal cells. While this attribute may make the product less appealing to consumers searching for vegetarian options, cultured meat has also proved to alienate meat eaters. Research from Ingredient Communications showed that only 29% of consumers would try lab-grown meat. Thirty-eight percent would not while the remaining 33% were unsure.

Although cultured meat remains a new entrant into the meat alternative space and has a long hill to climb to gain widespread acceptance, plant-based alternatives are widely appreciated by consumers worldwide. KFC has also tapped into this space through its partnership with Beyond Meat in the U.S.

After doing a trial run of plant-based fried chicken in Atlanta, Georgia last summer, the fast food chain has expanded its plant-based offerings to California. The success of this expansion will determine whether the Beyond Fried Chicken will be made available nationally.

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