KFC is set to serve meatless chicken for the first time — testing the new menu items on Tuesday at a single restaurant in the Atlanta area.
The Louisville, Ky.-headquartered Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, says it will offer "plant-based chicken" developed in partnership with the California startup Beyond Meat. The new menu items, which will come in the form of nuggets and boneless wings, will be debuted at a restaurant in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna.
"KFC Beyond Fried Chicken is so delicious, our customers will find it difficult to tell that it's plant-based," Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer of KFC U.S., said in a statement. "I think we've all heard 'it tastes like chicken' — well our customers are going to be amazed and say, 'it tastes like Kentucky Fried Chicken!' "
The company, which didn't immediately release nutritional information on the meatless chicken items, said customer feedback from the Atlanta trial "will be considered as KFC evaluates a broader test or potential national rollout."
The KFC trial follows Burger King's market test of the Impossible Whopper, a plant-based hamburger developed by Impossible Foods, a Beyond Meat rival, earlier this year. It led Burger King to roll out the burger to more than 7,000 of its restaurants earlier this month.
KFC's trial also comes amid a growing consumer trend away from meat products and toward alternatives, such as plant-based meats. Euromonitor reports that global sales of meat substitutes were at $19.5 billion in 2018 and that U.S. sales are expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2023.
"Veganism as a trend has really blown up," KFC Innovation Director Jack Hinchcliffe told The Telegraph in March.
Environmentalists argue that agriculture is responsible for up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and that much of that comes from meat production.
Beyond Meat, which introduced its first product in 2012, makes plant-based burgers, sausages and meat crumbles that are sold in many grocery stores and supermarkets.