Fast food brands should emulate KFC’s plant-based innovation, says GlobalData

KFC permanently added the plant-based Lightlife plant-based chicken sandwich to its menu in Canadian outlets after an extremely positive pilot scheme. Tasty ‘meatlike’ vegetarian options such as this will appeal to the growing global population of flexitarians, vegans and vegetarians, as well as consumers who want more sustainable options from their favourite fast food restaurants, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The recent explosion in premium plant-based foodservice shows that the consumer’s desire to be ethical is translating to increased uptake in innovative alternatives to meat. In the US alone, veganism grew sixfold between 2014 and 2017. Novelty and ethics will continue to drive consumers towards these products as they are released, even for those who typically would eat meat.”

In a survey by GlobalData, 3% of respondents in North America* would describe their diet as ‘flexitarian’, as opposed to the 6% that described as either ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ (4%). This was 5% flexitarian versus 3% vegan/vegetarian in China**, where KFC sells its vegan burgers, and 6% flexitarian as opposed to 7% vegetarian/vegans in the UK***, a market that is host to KFC’s Quorn fillet. The company has also been experimenting with a prototype of a 3D-printed chicken nugget in Russia with 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

Whittaker continues: “Fast food brands should emulate KFC’s plant based innovation because GlobalData**** has found that how ethical, socially responsible or environmentally friendly a product always or often influences 43% of global consumers’ product choices. This goes some way to explaining the prodigious growth we’ve seen in vegetarian, vegan and alternative cuisine in recent years. In taking these products to Asia, Russia and western countries, KFC is offering something truly innovative within its fried chicken remit and is showing us the future of fast food.”

* GlobalData 2019 Q3 Consumer Survey – North America
** GlobalData 2019 Q3 Consumer Survey – China
*** GlobalData 2019 Q3 Consumer Survey – UK
***** COVID-19 Week 5 Recovery Consumer Survey, based on combined ‘always’ and ‘often’ responses

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