KFC is launching a plant-based version of its fried chicken in about 50 locations in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego next week.
The chain has already served the faux chicken version of its product, which is made by Beyond Meat. KFC first tested Beyond Fried Chicken in Atlanta for one day last summer, and then it served the product for a limited time in Nashville and Charlotte this past winter.
The current version will be available in California while supplies last. KFC plans to monitor the results of this test to determine whether to make Beyond Fried Chicken available nationally.
Fast food chains have jumped on the plant-based meat trend as a way to bring in new customers, attract former fans and build excitement around the brand.
For the most part, restaurants have paused major menu changes as their supply chains have been put to the test during the pandemic. But "plant-based innovation has been the exception to the rule," said Morningstar restaurant analyst R.J. Hottovy.
Burger King, which sells the plant-based Impossible Whopper, launched the Impossible Croissan'wich breakfast sandwich nationally in June. Starbucks launched its own Impossible breakfast sandwich that month as well. And Dunkin', which serves a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich, introduced a wrap version of the sandwich around the same time.
"We're still seeing increased demand for plant-based products," Hottovy explained. He added that the new plant-based menu items don't add much complexity to restaurant kitchens, especially if the restaurant already serves such products.