KFC China is launching vegan chicken nuggets for the first time ever amid growing interest in China’s meat-alternative industry. The announcement follows successful trials of vegan chicken at KFC in the U.S. and Europe. The nuggets are made by major U.S. meat producer, Cargill.
KFC is the largest fast-food chain in China. Restaurant company Yum China owns or franchises all branches in the country. According to Reuters, the new plant-based nuggets will be sold at just three locations, Shanghai and the southern cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The plant-based chicken is only available between April 28 and 30.
China’s meat substitute industry has been recognized as a key target market by other producers, including Beyond Meat Impossible Foods. The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is also currently significantly affecting China’s poultry production.
KFC China previously offered a portabello mushroom-based vegetarian burger, but no plant-based chicken option.
Cargill planned to launch a complete range of plant-based products this month, including hamburger patties and ground meat. A press release from the global food giant says its new plant-based products “are part of Cargill’s inclusive approach to the future of protein.”
“We’ve created some of the best tasting products available in the plant-based category today,” said Elizabeth Gutschenritter, managing director of Cargill’s alternative protein team, in a statement. “We’ve combined our deep knowledge of plant proteins with our expertise in R&D, product development and production to deliver products consumers will love.”
KFC Goes Vegan
Earlier this year, KFC trialed plant-based fried chicken, developed by California-based brand Beyond Meat, at more than 70 locations in the U.S. Prior to that, KFC trialed vegan chicken at one store in Atlanta last summer, and sold out in less than five hours.
KFC also trialed vegan chicken in Canada, where the Lightlife-produced option sold out within six hours. In the UK, KFC teamed up with Quorn to launch The Zero Chicken Burger in January 2020. The brand reported 1 million burgers sold in the first month. KFC has also launched two fully vegan options in Vietnam.
All prospective KFC China customers must purchase a pre-sale coupon for one serving of five plant-based chicken pieces. The meal will cost 1.99 yuan per serving.