Beyond Meat, the publicly traded producer of plant-based protein replacements for meat, is currently giving other companies in the alternative meat space an education in just how finicky appealing to consumer tastes can be.
On the same day that the Canadian Tim Hortons restaurant chain is dropping Beyond Meat products from its menus, the company and fried chicken chain KFC announced the expansion of a pilot run of the company's chicken replacement products at new stores in Nashville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C. and across Kentucky, according to multiple reports.
On Wednesday, Beyond Meat said that 66 restaurants will receive chicken products and chief executive Ethan Brown told Yahoo Finance that he expects his company to have enough capacity to potentially meet demand from all of KFC's locations.
“The response in Atlanta continues to underscore the growing consumer demand for high-quality, delicious plant-based meats. Together with KFC's team, we have created a plant-based chicken that looks, tastes and pulls apart like a chicken breast. I am very proud of what our R&D teams have accomplished and look forward to continuing to lead the charge on plant-based chicken,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat founder and chief executive, in a statement.
Despite the good news, investors would be wise to not count their chickens before they hatch (or are formed into chicken-like approximations from pea protein and a mix of other ingredients).
Taken together, the reports may point to a slowdown in consumer interest for meat replacements at fast food chains.
Still, even as the Tim Hortons door closes, other doors are opening at dining establishments willing to welcome the Beyond Burger onto broader menus. On Monday, Denny's became the latest chain to offer a Beyond Meat burger at all of its locations.
With the latest partnership, the company seems to be pulling away from its other well-capitalized rival Impossible Foods, despite the decision to scrap the company's menu items.
Beyond Meat's ability to manufacture at scale seems to have been one of the deciding factors in the company's partnership with McDonald's, something that Impossible Foods chief executive Pat Brown referenced in an interview with Reuters earlier this month.
Denny's launched its Beyond Burger in restaurants across Los Angeles last year and will now take the menu item to more than 1,700 locations across the U.S.