KFC to roll out Cargill’s plant-based chicken across China
The move comes as the plant-based space faces tough times due to coronavirus
22 Apr 2020 --- Following its foray into expanded protein options for foodservice and retail customers, agri-food supplier Cargill has partnered with fast food conglomerate Yum China to launch plant-based KFC fried chicken across China. The meat-free chicken substitute will be tested in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, later this month. However, despite a surge in plant-based products, the coronavirus pandemic is spelling out uncertainties for the plant-based boom, according to the Good Food Institute (GFI).
“Cargill has a strong history of providing high-quality protein products to customers,” says Elizabeth Gutschenritter, Managing Director of Cargill’s alternative protein team. “Producing plant-based products across our global supply chain is the next logical step to expanding our ability to meet current consumer needs and bring new value to this category.”
Taking to the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo to announce its new launch, KFC revealed it will begin selling plant-based fried chicken over a limited period between April 28 to 30. Each serving will be priced at ¥1.99 (US$0.28), according to the fast food chain.
“The Plant-Based Revolution,” ranked by Innova Market Insights as its second Top Trend for 2020, is notably catalyzing a new wave of animal-free protein in NPD for Asian markets. Prior to these latest developments, Bühler and Givaudan joined forces in Singapore in February to open a unique Innovation Center dedicated to plant-based R&D. Ingredion also invested of US$140 million in meat-free solutions last June, with aims to enable total turnkey solutions for consumers to grow in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
Moving ahead from a pork shortage crisis caused by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak, which drove up regional pork prices and annihilated China’s pig herd, the Chinese market is opening up to alternative sources of protein. This follows the dynamic trend that is catching on globally with thanks to fast moving players such as Impossible Foods, which generated buzz surrounding its own version of plant-based “pork” – Impossible Pork.
The boom in veggie-based demand, however, faces headwinds from the COVID-19 crisis as it continues to spell out uncertainty for the sector. “Plant-based brands whose primary focus was in the foodservice sector, especially institutional foodservice like schools and business cafeterias, have experienced very negative impacts on their business. It may take that sector a long time to recover,” says Alison Rabschnuk, GFI Director of Corporate Engagement.
“As consumers continue to purchase groceries, plant-based meat sales have seen double- and triple-digit growth over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, though, many new retail product launches have had to be placed on hold as retailers are focused on keeping current inventory in stock instead of resetting shelves. To adapt to this rapidly evolving economic environment, some start-ups are embracing direct-to-consumer models, which have gained in popularity as consumers seek to avoid grocery stores,” she remarks.
Plant-based in foodservice diversifies
In addition to the new KFC launch, Cargill is now marketing its new private label plant-based patties and ground products, building upon its viability as a contender in the dynamic space next to established brands including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. The supplier has set its sights on further expanding its presence in the retail food and foodservice sectors with its new offerings.
Before the pandemic, KFC had already been building up its portfolio of vegan and vegetarian options on its menus outside of China. In the UK, the fast food chain debuted “Zero Chicken” vegan burgers made from Quorn patties. Meanwhile, a Beyond Fried Chicken made using Beyond Meat’s product debuted in the US. In the Netherlands, a Rotterdam branch of KFC went 100 percent meat-free for a whole week last month.
Other large contenders in the foodservice sector have entered the space. Recently, Pizza Hut unveiled “Pepperphoni” in honor of the “Veganuary” meat-free month. Meanwhile, confectionary giant Mondelēzannounced the development of a vegan variety of its classic product, the Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar. Meanwhile, Swiss food giant, Nestlé, also pivoted its business to sell the soy-based Garden Gourmet Incredible Sausage in US and European markets, available in Bratwurst and Chorizo styles.
By Benjamin Ferrer
To contact our editorial team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.