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Whenever a musician, actor, or politician would go on the dearly departed satirical show The Colbert Report, they would get something called “The Colbert Bump.” Host Stephen Colbert coined the term, which describes how his guests would experience an uptick in popularity/downloads/votes immediately after they appeared on the show.
Something similar is happening in fast food right now. After debuting a new plant-based meat item — usually featuring Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat — QSR’s are experiencing a bump in foot traffic and sales. So far we’ve seen it with Burger King, White Castle, and Del Taco.
Novelty is at least partially responsible. Consumers want to try these new meatless products that claim to taste — and even bleed — just like the real thing. The hype is spurred even further by the media frenzy around Beyond Meat’s still-climbing shares.
Once that novelty wears off, however, will people still keep coming back to Carl’s Jr. to try the Beyond Famous Star Burger, or return to White Castle to regularly order the Impossible Slider?
Certainly vegetarians and vegans will. By putting plant-based meat on the menu QSR’s are inviting in a whole new demographic that might not have been able to, or willing to, dine there before.
When it comes to flexitarians, however, the rate of return is less clear. Fast-food chains may be getting a lot of media buzz for embracing plant-based meat right now, which is helping them stand out from a crowded field where one burger combo is pretty much indistinguishable from any other. However, with the rapid pace of adoption, soon meatless meat will be commonplace for QSR’s (except for you, Arby’s).
Once all fast-food restaurants have rolled out their own plant-based options and consumers have given each of them a whirl, will meatless meats (and dairy, and eggs) stop being such a draw?
Seeing as the plant-based meat market is growing at 6.8 percent CAGR with no signs of slowing, I think there will still be plenty of consumers seeking out alternative proteins in fast-food. My guess is that the brand of plant-based meat will become more and more important; consumers might end up creating fast-food loyalties based off of their preference for Impossible, Beyond, or whatever other meatless brands make their way onto QSR menus (Nestlé, is that you?).
That’s a Whopper
Speaking of fast food and meatless meat, this week a San Francisco-based Spoon reader Tom G did what I did not (mea culpa!) and tried the new Impossible Whopper from Burger King. The plant-based patty launched in the Bay Area last week, the fifth region on the way to its nationwide rollout.
So what did he think?
“It was good. Probably 85% of the way there,” Tom wrote.
A B+ ain’t bad. Interestingly, Tom noted that the Impossible Whopper had “a slightly artificial taste but since the Whoppers do already that’s ironically in their favor.” Some have complained about how plant-based meats are too filled with chemicals and heavily processed ingredients, but maybe that’s exactly what will make them such a good replacement for fast-food staples.
Protein new ’round the web
- Oatly, the Swedish company behind the wildly popular oat milk coveted by baristas everywhere, is bringing its oat milk ice cream to the U.S. (h/t Refinery29)
- Bye, potato chips. U.K. offices are getting vending machines filled with frozen plant-based meals from company Allplants, Livekindly reports.
- Last week we reported that Beyond Meat’s new Beyond Beef product was on-sale in one Whole Foods location in Boulder, CO. It’s now rolling out in retailers nationwide, according to VegNews.
That’s it from me this week. I bought some cricket chips (cheddar flavor) on a whim, which are going to be my afternoon snack. I’ll report back.