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Apr 27, 2021

Beyond Meat telling customers faux chicken is coming this summer

McCreath: Maple Leaf losing alternative meat market share

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Beyond Meat Inc. is close to adding plant-based chicken to its product lineup.

The faux-meat maker is telling customers it’s preparing to launch a chicken alternative this summer, according to people familiar with the plans who asked not to be named because the plans are private.

The company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Adding plant-based chicken to its lineup would mark a major expansion for the seller of pea-based beef, burgers and sausages in supermarkets and restaurants. Chicken is the most popular meat in the U.S. Converting even a portion of existing demand to plant-based would be a boon for the Wall Street darling that’s already been growing rapidly.

Beyond Meat has been experimenting with faux chicken for years, including previously selling a frozen chicken-strip product it discontinued in early 2019. More recently, it has tested plant-based chicken at trial runs with KFC. It has featured different versions of breaded nuggets, including one made of a ground “meat” and later, a product that more closely duplicated a “muscle-like structure,” Chief Executive Officer Ethan Brown told Bloomberg in an interview in January 2020.

Those KFC tie-ups were limited runs. In an interview last month, Beyond’s Chief Growth Officer Chuck Muth declined to pinpoint when a chicken product would launch, saying only that it would be coming “sometime in the relatively near future.”

Separately, the company on Tuesday announced a reformulation of its Beyond Burger, saying the new version, available in supermarkets the week of May 3, has improved taste and nutritional value. The company’s shares are up about 6 per cent year to date.