Earlier this week, news broke that Beyond Meat will be supplying hundreds of restaurants with a plant-based alternative to chicken tenders in light of a shortage that’s caused the price for poultry to skyrocket.
A grocery store rollout failed miserably years ago, so it’s interesting to see how much more successful Beyond Meat will be using a more grassroots approach with independent eateries across the United States.
As more fast-food chains also partner with the Los-Angeles based producer of plant-based meat substitutes, it begs the question:
Is plant-based the future of dining out in America?
What’s In A Beyond Meat Chicken Tender
Beyond Meat Founder and CEO, Ethan Brown answered questions on Reddit earlier this week about the latest product from his company.
The Chicken tenders are a different formulation than the available strips in grocery stores nine years ago.
Brown said that the tenders from Beyond Meat offer 40 percent less saturated fat than the leading foodservice counterpart and 14 grams of protein from fava beans.
Beyond Meat’s Fast Food Takeover
Personally, I don’t eat much fast food. So I’m more often unaware when a new product comes to market unless it’s the McRib from McDonald’s.
Then I’m all in!
When I researched the number of fast-food chains to have partnered with Beyond Meat on a menu item, the number’s staggering.
Popular brands include Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, Panda Express, and KFC.
And according to Brown, McDonald’s may be another shortly.
“We’ve made no secret about how important McDonald’s and our other Quick Serve Restaurant customers are to us, and we are working hard at supporting them today,” Brown said. “The vision of plant-based products at McDonald’s and elsewhere was a strong motivating factor for starting the company, and it’s been a significant focus for us.”
According to Adweek, “…the burger giant said it plans to add a faux burger called the McPlant (also the name of the broader veggie-friendly platform with chicken nuggets and breakfast sausage to come later).”
In general, the number of chain restaurants to offer a plant-based menu item’s grown exponentially in the last five years to include Starbucks, Chipotle, and Burger King, among others.
Related: Is the Impossible Whopper Actually Healthy?
Eating Less Chicken: A Good Or Bad Sign
Bloomberg reports that “…plant-based chicken substitutes shipped to U.S. commercial restaurants are up 19% by volume compared with two years ago, before the pandemic, and 15% compared with last year, according to NPD Group’s SupplyTrack.”
And while consumer demand may be changing with more individuals opting to vary their diets to include more vegetable sources of protein than meat, the pandemic’s effect on the poultry industry cannot be understated.
Popeyes has spent the last six months stockpiling frozen chicken.
“Demand is very high right now, and consumer spending is surging” as the country emerges from the pandemic, Popeyes CEO Sammi Siddiqui told Bloomberg. “We’re planning appropriately.”
So kudos to a shrewd business strategy by Beyond Meat to supply numerous mom-and-pop restaurants, which may not be able to compete with larger franchises during this nationwide chicken shortage, with its chicken tender product.
Because most chickens are raised in factory-like farms and not in conditions, you’d imagine with acres of grass to roam around, raising awareness about animal welfare factors into the equation as to why more consumers are gravitating towards Beyond Meat.
Life’s about balance, and no nutritionist or research study online appears to recommend any human being eat protein from exclusive one source (ex. Eggs, red meat, poultry, fish).
If anything, variety’s heavily advocated for. Incorporating a mixture of real meat and plant-based protein into your diet sounds like the best thing.
But consider this: Beyond Meat chicken tenders contain titanium dioxide, albeit FDA-approved, which the European Food Safety Authority said earlier this spring has the potential to damage DNA.
Image via Beyond Meat