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The Most Important Meal of the Day
In the pilot episode of Arrested Development, the excellent comedy series about a wealthy family’s shenanigans (skip Seasons 4 and 5, though), there’s an iconic scene. Michael Bluth, the family anchor, asks his teenage son George Michael: “What have we always said is the most important thing?”
Michael says “family” as his son responds “breakfast.” “Family, right,” says George Michael. “I thought you meant of the things you eat.” Well, it seems that breakfast might indeed be the most important thing to plant-based foods companies. Or at least it’s on track to be.
This week Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s announced that they would both start selling a breakfast burrito and breakfast biscuit made with Beyond sausage, beginning this month. The news comes just over a month after Dunkin’ accelerated the nationwide rollout of its Beyond Sausage Sandwich due to favorable sales. All of this means that by 2020, Beyond breakfast offerings will be available at over 11,000 QSR locations.
The plant-based breakfast trend doesn’t stop at meat. JUST announced this week that Whole Foods Market will begin offering a JUST Egg scramble at the hot bar of 63 stores starting in January. It will also sell three new breakfast sandwiches, all of which feature a JUST Egg patty and are completely vegan. Whole Foods is also developing a vegan breakfast pizza featuring the mung bean-based “egg.’
In an email to The Spoon, JUST’s Global Head of Communications Andrew Noyes noted “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… breakfast is the next plant-based boom.”
The timing is pretty ideal. As The Spoon’s Head Editor Chris Albrecht pointed out, the rise in plant-based breakfast patties is coming at a time when the USDA is reducing the number of inspectors at pork plants. Simultaneously, the African Swine Flu is decimating pig populations in China, the world’s largest exporter of pork, which could lead to an increase in pork prices during 2020.
Aside from the seemingly isolated case of Tim Horton’s, which stopped selling all Beyond products (including breakfast sandwiches) back in September, that seems to be the case. JUST Egg is popping up on more fast-casual and QSR menus, and just made a factory acquisition to ramp up manufacturing. In the retail space, plant-based yogurts are popping up one after another, even from big players like Yoplait and Chobani.
One thing’s for sure: there won’t be any arrested development in the plant-based breakfast train.
The Taco Bell Test
Speaking of fast food, this week Taco Bell in China began serving a Crunchy Taco filled with plant-based OmniPork. This marks the first time that Omnipork will be available on a fast-food menu, and the first time that a Chinese QSR will serve meatless meat.
For now the Tex Mex chain will only sell 6,000 of the meat-free tacos. Yum China, Taco Bell China’s’s parent brand, didn’t note if the company was planning to put the OmniPork Crunchy Taco OmniPork on the menu.
This limited-edition pilot could give key insight into whether or not the Chinese market is interested in meatless meat. Sure, Beyond and Impossible has captivated Western consumers and made its way onto many QSR menus. But will China offer as hungry a market?
Alternative meat companies certainly hope so. In addition to OmniPork, which was the first plant-based meat to be sold in mainland China, Impossible and Beyond have also been vocal that they want to break into the Chinese market.
They’ll have to hope the OmniPork Crunchy Tacos are a runaway hit.
Beyond Meat Heads into Poultry
“You’ll see some exciting things from us in the poultry space in 2020.” That’s what Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said in an interview with Bloomberg TV this Monday.
While Brown said he couldn’t name any specific partners or developments, there’s a least one we can make a pretty safe bet on: KFC. This August KFC did a one-day trial of Beyond Fried Chicken at a single location in Atlanta. They sold out in only five hours.
This success means that KFC would have to be bird-brained not to roll out Beyond Fried Chicken to more stores in 2020. With other plant-based poultry players quickly entering the U.S market — from Big Food to small startups — Beyond would be smart to start leveraging its brand recognition and lock up partnerships fast, before they get swooped up by someone else.
Protein ’round the web
- Burger King is giving out free Impossible Whoppers to travelers with delayed flights (h/t FastCompany).
- Dutch company Protifarm has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding to scale its “tofu” made of high-protein beetles (via Agfunder).
- Kroger is testing dedicated plant-based meat sections within its meat department in 60 stores, according to FoodNavigator.
- Cellular aquaculture startup BlueNalu did a culinary demo of its cell-based yellowtail, which can cooked or served raw.
Happy holidays! I’ll be taking next week off to spend time with family and perhaps do another White Castle Impossible slider eating competition.