As the demand for vegan food continues to expand across the globe, Joy Burgers & Plants is the first vegan fast food chain to open in Latin America.
Joy Burgers & Plants opened its doors in Argentina last October. Joy offers a range of animal-free burgers, chicken, mac and cheese, nuggets, and more fast-food staples, all served in compostable and recycled packaging.
‘Franchising in mind’
According to Patricio Lescovich, one of the founders of Joy, the brand was developed with franchising in mind, leveraging the extensive experience of the founders of Hell’s Pizza and SushiClub. Lescovich is also behind the Argentinian burger restaurant named after (mostly vegetarian) actor, Kevin Bacon.
Joy is adding two more locations before the end of the fiscal quarter, with two other openings slated for later this year.
In addition, Joy has partnered with Argentina’s leading plant-based alternatives company, Felices las Vacas, to develop its burgers and chicken alternatives.
Felices las Vacas has the logistics and production capacity to supply Joy’s rapid expansion plans. The company started selling soy milk in Buenos Aires in 2016 and now has an award-winning plant-based portfolio with nearly 40 products, including dairy, meat alternatives, ice cream, snacks, sweets, and drinks.
LATAM embraces plant-based
The popularity of plant-based protein in Latin America is on the rise. A study by Innova Market Insights found that 57 percent of Latin American consumers are trying to increase their consumption of plant-based protein, citing health and environmental concerns as the main motivators.
As the demand for plant-based protein continues to grow, food companies are taking notice. Leading LATAM’s shift is the Chile-based NotCo, which recently partnered with fast-food giant Burger King in LATAM. It also recently joined forces with Kraft Heinz.
Founded in 2015 by Matias Muchnick, Karim Pichara, and Pablo Zamora, NotCo uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create plant-based products that taste and feel like their animal-based counterparts.
NotCo is also providing vegan chicken for Joy.
Both NotCo’s and Joy’s success in the plant-based food industry highlights the growing demand for sustainable and healthy food options outside of the U.S. and Europe.
“Sometimes you can have an excellent product and a market that is not ready to receive it,” Lescovich told Forbes Argentina last year. “But is not the case. Ours is a country that is always innovating in terms of gastronomy, on par with what happens in other parts of the world. We are prepared for a 100% vegan fast-food chain. Because Joy, in addition, is not just a hamburger restaurant for people who do not eat meat. A good part of our consumers are flexitarians, people who like the taste of meat but who try to reduce their consumption. Not only for a matter of food but also for awareness of animal care and the environment.”