Jack in the Box Tests Plant-Based Patties For Every Burger on the Menu

|Updated Oct 20, 2021
Instagram / @jackinthebox

Jack in the Box just announced that it will join the ranks of fast-food restaurants offering plant-based substitutes. The national fast-food chain revealed that it will partner with Impossible Foods to begin offering an Impossible Burger as an option for all of its menu’s signature burgers. The chain will test this plant-based patty at approximately 50 storefronts across the metropolitan Phoenix area. The trial period will range from this week until December 12 in an effort to gauge consumer response.

The fast-food burger chain has previously experimented with plant-based options, but the Impossible Burger will be Jack in the Box’s first vegan beef patty. The test is also the first time that any fast food burger chain has featured a plant-based patty substitute for its core menu, allowing customers to improve plant-based customization across all burger options. To substitute for the Impossible patty, consumers will pay a $1 to $1.50 surcharge.

“We’re excited to test the Impossible Burger patty at our Phoenix locations. We feel it is important to give our guests as many options to choose from as possible because Jack in the Box is all about menu variety and satisfying all types of cravings,” Jack in the Box Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Ostrom said in a statement. “Our consumer insights show our guests are interested in plant-based options and we want to give them as many ways to enjoy our products as possible.”

Although this is Jack in the Box’s first foray into the plant-based beef category, the national chain has spent years experimenting with plant-based alternatives. In 2020, Jack in the Box revealed its Unchicken Sandwich at Reno, Nevada, and Monterey and Salina, California locations. The chain became the second major fast-food chain to feature plant-based chicken following KFC’s 2019 trial of Beyond Fried Chicken.

The Unchicken Sandwich emerged from a temporary partnership with Raised & Rooted – the plant-based food brand from Tyson Foods. At the time, Raised & Rooted products still included egg whites and other animal-based ingredients in some of its products (since then, Tyson removed the animal products from its selections), but the Jack in the Box patty was modified to be completely vegan. The plant-based chicken sandwich also included a non-vegan mayo that could be removed, finished with lettuce, tomato, and a vegan bun.

While Jack in the Box has not announced a national rollout for its Unchicken Sandwich, the fast-food chain is rapidly moving into the plant-based sphere. The partnership with Impossible signifies that the company is responding to both consumer demand and the plant-based movement sweeping across the entire fast-food industry. Boasting its sustainability, Impossible Foods aims to become widely available for US consumers, especially through fast-food restaurants.

“We're thrilled that an iconic brand like Jack in the Box would choose Impossible Burger for its menu," Impossible Foods President Dennis Woodside said. "More and more, meat-eaters are looking for new ways to enjoy the same foods they know and love while doing something great for the planet. Jack in the Box is delivering on that with a patty that tastes great in every single burger on its core menu."

Before Jack in the Box, the Impossible patty arrived on the fast-food scene when Burger King and Fatburger rolled out plant-based variations of key menu items. Burger King’s Impossible Whopper became one of the most widely available plant-based burgers in 2019. Outside of Impossible Foods, competitors such as Beyond Meat have also infiltrated the fast-food industry.

Most recently, McDonald’s announced that its McPlant burger – made with Beyond’s signature plant-based patty – will arrive at select locations throughout the United States. The select locations will be located in Irving, Texas; Carrollton, Texas; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Jennings, Louisiana; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Manhattan Beach, California; and El Segundo, California.

Across the entire foodservice sector, plant-based options are being featured substantially more than ever before. A recent report from AI Platform Tastewise found that plant-based meat is appearing on foodservice menus 1,320 percent more than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The report goes on to say that the plant-based meat sector and its widespread rising acceptance presents a $14 billion opportunity. Following the pandemic, consumers and businesses have been encouraged to adopt plant-based alternatives due to rising concerns regarding sustainability and health.

“Responding to the devastating advance in climate change, many companies are working to reduce the significant climate footprint of the animal-farmed meat industry by innovating ways to move away from animal meat,” Tastewise CEO Alon Chen wrote in the report. “This increase in resources devoted to plant-based meat products, combined with consumer demands for real, versatile solutions, results in a timely shift in the way we consume food. We’re looking forward to a healthier, more sustainable world of food and beverage, where we all play a part.”

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

1. Burger King

Turns out there’s a lot more to rely on than a salad if you’re eating plant-based. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper featuring a meatless patty as well as a few secretly vegan options such as the French Toast Sticks and Hashbrowns.

2. White Castle

Known for its mini square-shaped sliders, this hamburger chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon at some participating locations. You can find an Impossible Slider on some White Castle menus.

3. Del Taco

This was the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer Beyond Meat at the company’s 580 restaurants across the country. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco on the menu along with the Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito and Avocado Veggie Bowl.

4. Carl's Jr.

Another brand synonymous with beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. offers several plant-based options for veggie and plant lover such as Beyond Famous Star Burger and Guacamole Thickburger.

5. Taco Bell

This fast-food restaurant may have been one of the first you frequented while transitioning to plant-based eating. That’s because Taco Bell has eight million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items a year through menu substitutions or ordering off their vegetarian menu. In fact, they were the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified food options.

6. Starbucks

From the time it started offering breakfast sandwiches in 2006, the coffee conglomerate became a competitor in the fast-food space. You can get your favorite hot and cold beverages made with almond, coconut or oat milk but there are also plant-based food options available such as the Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap, bagel with vegan cream cheese and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.