Good things come to those who wait. Over three years since announcing plans to develop plant-based fried chicken, KFC appears to be within striking distance of that goal. According to Kevin Hochman, the company's president, plant-based fried chicken will be coming to KFC "soon"—and perhaps sooner than consumers think.
In an interview with Bloomberg's Fortune, Hochman confirmed that the chain has been fine-tuning plant-based versions of its famous chicken tenderloin and chicken strip products, and is preparing for a nationwide release. While he refused to speculate on the release date, Hochman confirmed that KFC is nearing completion of its new line, emphasizing that the chain was confident in long-term consumer demand for plant-based products.
"We envision this [plant-based] trend to continue to grow," he said. "We're pretty bullish on that. We don't think that plant-based is a fad, we think that's something that's going to continue to grow over time." Hochman's remarks came just days after plant-based meat manufacturer, Impossible Foods, debuted a new line of plant-based chicken nuggets for sale in restaurants and grocery stores.
KFC began testing out its own line of plant-based chicken nuggets (in collaboration with Beyond Meat) in select markets in 2019 and 2020. This time around, though, the fried chicken chain is hoping to move beyond nuggets and deliver plant-based versions of core menu items—tenderloins and strips. But replicating the famous fried chicken strips has been difficult, for a few reasons.
Besides nailing the taste, which as Hochman pointed out, is KFC's first priority with its plant-based products, reproducing subtle qualities like texture and "mouthfeel" is also important. In developing high-quality, plant-based versions of its chicken strips and tenderloins, KFC has had to blaze a new trail, separate from the tried-and-true methods of plant-based chicken nuggets.
From the sound of it, KFC's R&D team is well on its way to creating a plant-based chicken tender that both tastes and feels like a real KFC chicken strip. And while there's no official release date yet, customers have every reason to look forward to getting their hands on the revolutionary item sooner than later. After all, competition over plant-based chicken sandwiches might just be the new Chicken Sandwich Wars.
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