In our ever accelerating times, keeping ahead of the latest breaking news and trends from the world’s of fashion, music, film, art, tech, activism, is a time consuming daily challenge ? Sure the information is all out there, but it is a time consuming ordeal to scan all the necessary sources. As Darwin said survival depends on how quickly you can adapt.
The future belongs to those who prepare today.
In today’s PODCAST FIB’s Trend Report No 90, I want to look at one of the biggest potential game changers for the way the human race lives, and that is the possibility of ending the practice of using animals for meat.
I should preface this up front, that I try my best to not eat animals. I may consume a few eggs and a modest amount of seafood but for several years now I have avoided meat as food. I am not a militant vegan, but I do empathise with them and their beliefs, as I too have a major problem with the cruel inhumane practices that run all the way through our industrial farming / production artifice, and the barbaric practice of factory breeding, fattening and slaughtering of animals for food.
Sure, I could also make a strong case for the health benefits of a meat free diet, and also for the positive benefits to the planet, but to me the kicker is my aversion to the cruelty and torture of loving, feeling, fellow sentient beings. And it’s something that turns my stomach when it comes to animals as food.
As a marketing person, I know how the meat industry tries to normalise this practice. The meat industry does it’s level best to brainwash us that the meat under the plastic wrap and fluorescent lights in our supermarkets has no resemblance to any living thing.
And that it’s just food designed be eaten. It’s insidiously clever, and if you never stopped to really think about it you would just go along like the majority of the population eating animals without thinking, and never giving a thought to the suffering of the once intelligent thing you are putting in your mouth. Have you ever wondered why a roast chicken has the carcass inverted, neck and feet removed? It’s because it no longer looks anything like a living animal and why a vast amount of animal products come in sliced plastic packets.
It’s also why the animal products industry hires the best advertising minds to normalise the practice, just like our own Meat and Livestock Corporation, who every year tries to shame anyone who doesn’t eat slaughtered baby lambs as being un-Australian. It works!
So imagine just last week if you can, a hip hotel in Chicago’s West Loop, nestled among more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can count, KFC, yes the business that used to be known as ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ presented some lucky members of the public with a carefully plated presentation of chubby chicken wing like chunks on a rectangular white plate. The first your standard, plain tan. The second, a honey BBQ. The third, drenched in buffalo sauce. And the final features an oily coating of Nashville hot spice. The only twist, there was no chicken.
KFC’s new Beyond Fried Chicken range will be available in nearly 100 stores in Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and surrounding areas from February 3 to February 23. Produced by Beyond Meat exclusively for KFC, if it sells and customers like it, a nationwide release will follow at an undisclosed date.
Back in Chicago in the tasting room, a 3-foot-tall cutout of the Colonel himself looked on from a green wall as the testers tried the undressed plant nugget for the first time. Teeth pierce the crunchy fried coating and shred through the ‘meat’.
“Beyond Meat KFC chicken is a damn miracle. It’s good.”
The reaction was astonishing! The testers all agreed that it tasted just like a doggone piece of chicken—and not just any piece of chicken, but a KFC piece of chicken, with hints of those 11 herbs and spices. If the reaction from the customers of the 100 store test react the same way, then this is a game changer that could well be a seismic sized tipping point across not only the fast food industry but the whole meat industry globally.
KFC adopting Beyond Meat is not necessarily the biggest coup for fake meats in fast food: Last year, Beyond Meat had already snuck its breakfast sausage into sandwiches and bowls at Dunkin’ Donuts (the fourth most popular chain in the U.S.) while fierce competitor ‘Impossible Burger’ landed at the Whopper at Burger King (the sixth most popular chain). But while KFC is smaller than either of these chains (at 12th place), it certainly feels like a sign of the times that a company that’s literally named
“Kentucky Fried Chicken” will be selling chicken with no literal chicken in it. No wonder the alternative meat industry is projected to grow to $140 billion in a decade.
As Andrea Zahumensky, CMO of KFC U.S. tells us:
“KFC has been eyeing meat replacements for a while, but no product in the category seemed mature enough to work. That was until last year when talks with Beyond Meat began in earnest, and the two companies struck up a deal to co-develop a product. The process has taken about six months.”
The target customer isn’t just vegans or vegetarians, but flexitarians—people who might eat meat but would like to cut back on how much they consume. And there are a ton of those.
As a recent Kroger study found, 93% of people who bought Beyond Burger had other animal proteins in their cart. And for KFC, which has has been posting solid revenue and profits, though failing to have its Popeyes Chicken Sandwich moment, the product offers the opportunity to bring in a new, younger audience.
Apparently KFC went through countless iterations on the protein, ultimately opting, not for a ground, spongey protein, but something more akin to whole breast muscle tissue. As one of the testers demonstrated, picking apart a nugget with his fingers, Beyond Fried Chicken flakes and shreds. The meat is marinated to improve texture and impart extra KFC flavour.
Meanwhile, KFC worked on the breading, opting for a coat that was similar to the company’s popcorn chicken. It all comes together in a factory, before the product is shipped to KFC locations and deep fried to food safe temperatures, just like meat would be.
Whatever shape and name Beyond Fried Chicken takes when it eventually hits stores nationwide, the product they have ready to trial today by all accounts is superb.
Some people don’t like Beyond Meat for its uncanny resemblance to real meat. Others frown upon eating plant meats when the real stuff is so delicious and plentiful. Both of these perspectives are fair; what you put into your mouth is entirely your business but Beyond Fried Chicken demonstrates that
KFC is more food as brand than it is food as chicken. And if they can flex their business model and be successful it paves the way for others to follow, and follow fast.
So if faced with the option of a meat like non meat product, that was as tasty and satisfying as a cruelly killed animal product, and the nutritional value was equal or higher, and the price was similar, would you be swayed from eating animals, and therefore saving them from the cruel cycle of factory farming and slaughter ? Well I know I would. And that 140 Billion US $ could afford some really good advertising and marketing people to normalise it for us.
Keep an eye on your nearest KFC Menu for announcements.
FIB Trend Reports: Breaking News From Around The World
Charles Darwin said “It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But those Fastest to Adapt”
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