American Restaurant Chains Bank on Plant-Based Burgers

burgers
(Photo Credit: Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr.)

At the start of this year, Carl’s Jr. announced plans to add meatless burgers made from Beyond Meat to their menu. The burger chain isn’t alone in making the move to appeal to vegetarian and vegan customers with alternative proteins.

“Carl’s Jr. said it would sell a meatless version of its Famous Star burger for $6.29 at most of its restaurants,” Reuters reported recently. “Customers can also order Beyond Burger patties on any Carl’s sandwich for an additional $2.”

Following successful tests of meat-free burgers last spring, White Castle rolled out the Impossible Slider at nearly 400 locations nationwide in September. Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods makes the plant-based patty from soy leghemoglobin that releases a protein called heme, giving the product a blood-like color and taste, CNBC’s Sarah Witten explained.

White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram released a statement at the time saying that their customers had developed a hunger for the Impossible Slider. “Sales easily exceeded our expectations,” she said.

Other chains such as the Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s also added the Impossible Burger to select locations. Wahlburgers made it available at all US locations last year.

Both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have experienced remarkable growth. Beyond Meat had a 167% jump in net revenue to $56.4 million in the first nine months of 2018, Reuters reported. Impossible Foods has sold more than 13 million of its burgers through restaurant partnerships since July 2016, Fast Company reported in November. The burgers are now available in around 5,000 restaurants across all 50 states.

A new report from the Oxford Martin School for the World Economic Forum found that alternative proteins have the potential to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25%.

“Alternative-protein products are already on sale, chiefly in high- and middle-income countries, although even here they occupy only a small fraction of the market,” the report says. “The next decade will see a potential tipping point, when they might move from being ‘niche food’ to ‘mainstream food’ in high- and possibly middle-income countries.”

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