Louisville — It’s finger lickin’ fake chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken plans to test plant-based chicken nuggets and boneless wings Tuesday at one of its restaurants in Atlanta. Depending on customer feedback, the chain could expand the test to other markets.
California-based startup Beyond Meat said it developed the new product specifically for KFC. It’s made with wheat protein coated in a proprietary breading.
Beyond Meat also sells plant-based burgers, sausages and meat crumbles at grocery stores and some fast food chains like Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco. Frozen plant-based chicken strips were the first product Beyond Meat sold, starting in 2012. But the company pulled them off the market earlier this year because it wanted to improve the recipe.
Restaurants are responding to a surge in consumer demand for plant-based meats as people seek healthier, more sustainable food. U.S. sales of meat substitutes are expected to jump 78% to $2.5 billion between 2018 and 2023, according to Euromonitor.
Beyond Meat already has some serious competition in the plant-based chicken market. Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest meat producers, recently announced plans to sell nuggets made from pea protein. Chicken producer Perdue Farms is also making nuggets, tenders and patties from a blend of chicken and vegetables.