Who could have predicted that a fried chicken restaurant would lead the vegan fast food market push? Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) continues to pave the way for alternative meat in the quick-service sector, and now, the major fast-food brand is expanding its offerings globally. KFC just announced that its “Finger-Lickin' Good” offerings will get a plant-based makeover. Partnering with Quorn, the international chain will launch vegan chicken tenders across Europe.

“Our culinary team worked closely with KFC to co-create these products,” Chief Commercial Officer at Quorn Peter Harrison told FoodNavigator. “It is critical that we work closely with our QSR partners to ensure that products meet the high standards that their customers expect, and we’re delighted to support KFC, as well as other QSR customers, in their aspirations to expand meat-free offerings.”

KFC revealed that its European branch will work closely with the United Kingdom-based vegetarian food brand to develop innovative alternative chicken products. The partnership is a continuation of its first collaboration in 2020 when KFC launched the Original Recipe Vegan Burger at its UK locations. This next phase will focus on providing customers with buckets of vegan fried chicken. The company intended to sell the vegan patty for a month but sold out within four days. The company placed the vegan burger patty on the permanent menu in January 2022 at its UK and Ireland locations.

“Our fans were thrilled to see the launch of our Vegan Burger in 2020,” Strategy & Innovation Director at KFC Kate Wall told FoodNavigator. “The Original Recipe Vegan Burger proved to be such a success in the UK and Ireland that we have already tested Quorn-based products in several other countries, and plan to extend into multiple European markets in the coming months.”

The new expansion will begin in Germany and eventually spread across other KFC locations in Europe. The “Orignal Recipe Tender” – also known as the “Mini Fillet” – will provide KFC guests with the company’s first plant-based tender in Europe. The new menu offering has already been tested in the Netherlands and Germany at a select location.

The international fried chicken chain is planning to capitalize on the growing demand for vegan fast food. Following its successful vegan tenders launch in the United States, KFC’s European expansion will cater to consumers looking for more sustainable, healthier choices. Current data suggests that the global vegan fast food market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2028.

“Ensuring there are delicious meat-free food choices for consumers, wherever and whenever they make food decisions, is key to our mission of providing healthy food for people and the planet,” Harrison said. “Of course, it’s a positive development for our expansion plans. KFC is a global leader in QSR, with tens of thousands of restaurants worldwide who can offer millions of customers a delicious meat-free alternative to their favorite KFC meals.”

KFC in the United States

While KFC is partnering with Quorn in Europe, the major fried chicken company is working with Beyond Meat in the United States. This January, the company released its Beyond Meat Tenders at approximately 4,000 stores nationwide. The Beyond Fried Chicken can be ordered as a 6-piece or 12-piece meal or a la carte. When the company first launched the vegan tenders at an Atlanta location in 2019, the store sold out in a matter of hours, motivating the company's national expansion.

“The mission from day one was simple – make the world-famous Kentucky Fried Chicken from plants,” President of KFC U.S Kevin Hochman said. “And now over two years later we can say, ‘mission accomplished.’”

Cost of the Fast-Food Chicken Industry

Vegan fast food is an appealing concept, providing consumers everywhere with an easy, affordable meal that is significantly better for them and the planet. Through 2021, the vegan fast food industry made strides in sustainable offerings all over the world, but plant-based fast food also significantly helped the planet. The World Animal Protection revealed that vegan fast food is responsible for saving 630,000 animals from the food system, substantially lessening the fast food's burden on the environment.

Plant-based companies including Beyond Meat provide meat alternatives with fewer harmful consequences for the environment. Beyond Meat released a sustainability analysis that revealed that its vegan meat uses 93 percent less land requires 99 percent less water, and emits 90 percent fewer greenhouse gases than its animal-based counterparts.

The chicken sector has been revealed to be especially dangerous, specifically regarding public health. The New York Times published the exposé entitled The Life of Chickens with Mercy for Animal that showed the unsanitary and environmentally-unfriendly reality of chicken farming. The story urged people to consider plant-based alternatives, especially as more fast-food restaurants begin to offer plant-based chicken products.

The 6 Best Fast Food Chains With Plant-Based Options on the Menu

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.

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