Ever since missing the mark with Beyond Meat’s first faux chicken a decade ago, Beyond’s team of food scientists have had developing a better chicken substitute as a top goal.
But now that Beyond’s second attempt at vegan chicken tenders has been unveiled, it’s time for restaurants to decide if it’s good enough to add to the menu. So far, 400 restaurants have signed on.
“Creating the texture of the bite you have that releases the flavor, the juices and the fat — that was very challenging,” says Dariush Ajami, Beyond’s chief innovation officer. “They came up with ways to package the ingredients to resemble the fatty, juicy mouthfeel of a real chicken tender.”
I wouldn’t go quite that far, but the tenders tasted better than I expected. It’s hard not to be happily surprised when I tried it sandwiched between waffles, and then again doused with sriracha. I also pulled it apart, and while I’m not typically a big nugget eater, I can see the appeal here. I’ll be watching to see what fast food chains and other restaurants pick up this tender for their menus. Competition in the world of plant-based foods is fierce, and without adoption, all of that so-called innovation falls flat.
BY THE NUMBERS: Beyond Meat’s products are already available in 80 countries and some 62,000 foodservice locations worldwide. Beyond Meat has a market cap of $8.7 billion, and annual sales of about $400 million.
TAKEAWAY: Consumer demand for chicken has skyrocketed as the industrial poultry production industry has faced shortages and supply chain issues. Beyond is hoping those tailwinds will help convince buyers that the tenders should go out to fast food chains, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and other locations.
This article was originally published in Chloe’s newsletter, Forbes Fresh Take, which is all about big ideas changing the future of food. Subscribe here.