Unilever’s Burger King Whoppers will bring plant-based burgers to overlooked consumers, says GlobalData

Burger King’s expansion of Vegetarian Butcher patties in Latin America, China and the Caribbean shows that Unilever is serious about its aims to reach €1bn ($1.2bn) in plant-based sales. Burger King will supply Unilever’s Whopper patties in several developing markets at similar prices to its meat equivalent. This is a very positive step, as, according to a survey by GlobalData, consumers in these markets have become more concerned with the environment since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The Chinese market is already extremely receptive to plant-based meat replacements, with over one in five saying that they’re buying less meat*1 and more meat replacements*2. In comparison, Brazil has over a third noting that they are buying less meat and 14% saying they are buying more meat replacements. However, accessibility, infrastructure and prices remain key barriers to South American consumers.”

Whittaker continues: “As Unilever double-downs on its plant-based sales, the company will need to find ways to bring this to markets where plant-based meat replacements are still in their relative infancy as a category. Partnering with Burger King to reach these markets at a similar price point to meat – and then transitioning to local meat-replacement production as demand increases – is a sound approach. Burger King is a household name and has spearheaded a lot of recent plant-based burger campaigns, aiming to attract those with flexitarian and reduced-meat diets.

“To put it plainly, consumers wishing to reduce their meat intake will buy products that taste good – especially if they are convinced it helps the environment and reduces the impacts of meat farming. Consumers globally want to buy from companies they think are making the world a better place.”

*1 GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Tracker – China, Brazil, Published 7 December  combined responses “I am buying significantly lower quantities than before” “I am buying slightly lower quantities than before” “I have stopped buying this”

*2 GlobalData’s COVID-19 Recovery Tracker – China, Brazil, Published 7 December combined responses “I am buying significantly more than before” “I am buying slightly more than before” “I am stockpiling, buying in bulk or multiple times,” “I have never bought this but have started buying this now”

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