KFC tests plant-based ‘fried chicken’ in Ontario

KFC is testing a “chicken” sandwich and popcorn “chicken” made with a plant-based meat substitute at one of its Toronto-area stores. (CNW Group/KFC Canada)

Fast-food chicken chain KFC is collecting feedback from a one-day, one-store test of a new Canadian-made plant-based “fried chicken” product for the Canadian market.

The Canadian arm of the Yum Brands-owned chain set up a “limited” test run for what it calls KFC Plant-Based Fried Chicken at its 6055 Creditview Rd. store in Mississauga, Ont. on Wednesday, running until 11 p.m. ET or while the supply lasts.

The faux-meat product, available in a Plant-Based Fried Chicken sandwich and as Plant-Based Fried Popcorn Chicken, was developed and produced for KFC by Lightlife, a brand of U.S-based Greenleaf Foods, a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods.

“Feedback gathered during the limited, one-restaurant, one-day test will determine KFC Canada’s plans to roll out the Plant-Based Fried Chicken options nationally in 2020,” the company said Tuesday in a release.

KFC today is among the top 10 restaurant chains in Canada by number of outlets. According to Yum, whose other chains in Canada include Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, KFC’s Canadian footprint today includes 639 stores, compared to over 4,000 in the U.S.

KFC and Lightlife didn’t provide an ingredient list for the new faux chicken in Tuesday’s release. The plant ingredients used in Lightlife’s retail “Veggie Chick’n Tenders” brand include soy protein, tapioca, wheat gluten and wheat and potato starches.

Vegetarian options aren’t new to the KFC Canada menu, which has had such items since 2009, including a vegetarian sandwich.

KFC has also previously tested plant-based “chicken” in other markets, including nuggets and wings made by Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat in the U.S. in August, and a faux-chicken “Imposter Burger” in the U.K. in May.

Lightlife’s faux-meats also aren’t new to the Canadian fast food market; the company developed a Canadian-made plant-based burger for Harvey’s Canada, which was launched across that chain in September. It also launched a plant-based burger for the Kelseys Original Roadhouse chain in May.

Both Kelseys and Harvey’s are operated in Canada by Vaughan, Ont.-based Recipe Unlimited, whose dining brands also include The Keg, Montana’s and fried chicken chain St-Hubert, among others.

“We believe the Colonel’s famous finger lickin’ good taste should have no boundaries,” KFC Canada’s chief marketing officer Sam Redman said in Tuesday’s release. “So we’ve created several craveable plant-based options for Canadians looking for a meat-free meal.”

“With pioneering partners like KFC, we can make plant-based foods more broadly available to the growing number of consumers seeking the option on the go,” Greenleaf CEO Dan Curtin said in the same release. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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