Updated October 6, 2019. | American fast food restaurant chain Wendy’s could soon launch a vegan burger.
During the company’s 2019 second-quarter earnings call last August, Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor revealed that the chain intends on entering the plant-based food scene.
Andrew Charles, vice president of investment firm Cowen and Company, asked Penegor, “I’m curious about what your brand insights say about plant-based protein given the impact it has had in the industry and how these fit into Wendy’s higher quality brand positioning?”
Penegor replied, “Clearly there is growth out there in plant-based proteins and we believe that it is a trend that will be here to stay.”
He added that Wendy’s is “taking a hard look at what the options would be for us at the restaurant.”
A recent Change.org petition calling for a vegan burger shows that the demand is there. Launched in August, the petition now has over 25,000 signatures.
“A plant-based burger would not only be better for animal welfare, the environment, and health, but also great for business at Wendy’s,” it states. “Beyond Meat recently went public with investments and raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars while also soaring 163% from their original IPO (the biggest increase for a US company since 2000).”
‘The Wendys Way’
Penegor highlighted a veggie burger that was previously offered at Wendy’s, saying that its performance wasn’t consistent between locations. The black bean burger — which was made with a blend of black beans, grains, pepper, corn, and carrots as well as spices like garlic and chili pepper — was introduced at the beginning of 2015 and was discontinued in July 2017. Wendy’s said it would assess what it had learned and search for other opportunities to satisfy its customers.
Speaking about future plant-based options, Penegor said during the recent earnings call, “We want to do it the Wendy’s way. Something that is unique to Wendy’s.”
“Our culinary team continues to look at various options. [Plant-based protein] is probably something we need to look at, and will look at, into the future,” he confirmed.
It was reported earlier this year that Wendy’s — along with Subway, Domino’s, and Dunkin’ — had shown interest in plant-based meat products. Dunkin’ and Subway have since partnered with Beyond Meat, which creates realistic vegan meat items like its Beyond Burger.
Vegan Burgers at Fast Food Chains
By introducing a vegan burger option, Wendy’s would join the growing list of restaurant chains tapping into the demand for plant-based food.
Burger King added the meat-free Impossible Whopper to its menu in April. The move proved popular; the chain reported a 28 percent sales rise during the same month. Its competitor McDonald’s, which has not yet launched a vegan burger option, only saw a 2 percent sales rise in April.
Carl’s Jr. offers a meat-free version of its Famous Star Burger, which features a vegan beef patty by Beyond Meat. Hardee’s recently announced plans to add plant-based Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage options to its menu.