In case you haven’t noticed, there are a growing number of meatless ‘meat’ products now available at both grocery stores and restaurants. In the past few months alone, several fast food chains launched chicken-free chicken and meatless burgers to their offerings, and all seem to delight customers who are looking for plant-based alternatives to meat.
In one instance, KFC supplied an Atlanta franchise with faux-meat chicken from Beyond Meat called the ‘Beyond Fried Chicken’. Customers arrived before the doors even opened and the restaurant sold out of its supplies in just five hours! Of course, social media was responsible for the rush to test, but nonetheless, selling out what was supposed to be a several day experiment in less than a day says a great deal about the changing consumer tastes.
Burger King is already established in the meat-free burger category and has been selling the ‘Impossible Burger’, using the plant-based patties from Impossible Meats. White Castle is also in the mix with its ‘Impossible Slider’ (also from Impossible Meats), also sold nationwide.
And last, but not least, McDonald’s has jumped into the meatless game with its ‘PLT’ burger from Beyond Meat – plant, lettuce, and tomato. While today the PLT is only available in Ontario, Canada, it seems likely to make the move to a national distribution as well.
What’s going on? What are these new ‘meats’? The term ‘meatless meats’ is a contentious point, but the products are made by combining plant-based fats, binders, fruit and vegetable-based colors and flavor to create a fibrous texture of meat (no animal components). While these types of products have existed for a number of years, they were commonly marketed only to vegetarians and vegans. Today’s new plant-based meats are aimed directly at meat-eaters, particularly consumers who are concerned about climate change and eliminating animal products from their diets. However, plant-based meats are not typically as healthy as eating unprocessed vegetables and beans and meat consumption is still increasing worldwide. The burgers are often high in calories and fats.
Are you hungry?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Review meatless meat products and meals as needed:
- McDonald’s PLT burger: https://youtu.be/StVR1njx2ow
- KFC meatless chicken: https://youtu.be/U-imMy7Ohik
- Burger King Impossible Whopper: https://youtu.be/N9FED3jkNTo
- Impossible Whopper: https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper
- The Better Meat Co: https://www.bettermeat.co/
- Beyond Meat: https://www.beyondmeat.com/
- Impossible Foods: https://impossiblefoods.com/
- Carl’s Jr Burger calorie: https://www.carlsjr.com/menu/nutritional_calculator/beyond-famous-star-with-cheese
- Discuss the five factors of an environmental scan: Social trends, technology trends, competition, economic trends, and legal/regulatory factors.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team use their laptops or mobile devices to discover at least two points in each of the five categories of an environmental scan.
- Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board.
- Do these factors show why companies are embracing the new foods?
- Extra video: If students are interested, a scholarly video about climate change and food can be found at: https://youtu.be/8miQs3mPGu8
Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Associated Press, and other news sources