Burger King has brought its Rebel Whopper made with The Vegetarian Butcher’s plant-based patties to Dubai, after rolling out the new meatless option across 25 countries in Europe last year and adding vegan chicken nuggets to menus in Germany. It’s the latest extension of the partnership between the fast food giant and Unilever, who acquired the Dutch plant-based meat brand two years ago, and comes as the mainstream food industry faces greater demand from their customers to green their menus.
Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher has partnered up with Burger King to launch the new Rebel Whopper in the United Arab Emirates for the first time. Now available in the fast food giant’s locations across the country’s capital Dubai starting from 19 AED (US$5.17), the new vegetarian-friendly Rebel Whopper will be made with the plant-based meat brand’s soy protein patties, and topped with sliced tomatoes, fresh lettuce, egg-based mayonnaise, pickles, onions and ketchup. While suitable for vegetarians, the chain does note that the patty is cooked on the same grill as regular beef burgers.
Accompanying the launch, Burger King has also rolled out an outdoor advertising campaign across billboards on Dubai’s main roads and streets including Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Street and Hessa Street, announcing the new “Whopper without meat but tastes the same” to appeal to the growing flexitarian crowd.
The move comes a year after Unilever’s Europe-wide partnership with the burger chain, where the Rebel Whopper powered by The Vegetarian Butcher was introduced simultaneously in over 2,500 restaurants across 25 countries in 2019. It recently extended the collaboration, with Burger King rolling out The Vegetarian Butcher’s plant-based chicken nuggets in Germany in a bid to appeal to its increasingly environmentally-friendly and ethical customer base.
Unilever’s plan is to continue to expand The Vegetarian Butcher via both retail and foodservice channels over the course of the coming year in its bid to meet its ambitious new annual sales goal of €1 billion (US$1.19 billion) for its plant-based meat and dairy category. The CPG major will also innovate more vegan-friendly products across many of its well-known portfolio brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum and Hellmann’s.
Elsewhere, Burger King has partnered with Australian plant-based meat brand v2food to bring meatless Whopper options to Asia-Pacific markets. Recently launched in the Philippines, the fast food chain is selling the product at price parity with its animal-based counterparts, marking a significant step forward in making sustainable choices accessible to mass consumers.
Other sustainability-forward steps that Burger King has taken after growing pressure includes teaming up with circular packaging startup Loop to pilot reusable containers and cups for its iconic menu items and drinks. Slated to begin in 2021, the trail will debut in select locations in New York City, Portland and Tokyo before expanding to more major cities around the world in the months following.
Other fast food giants have also begun to add more meatless options amid the global plant-based trend that has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, including KFC, who has partnered with Beyond Meat, Quorn, Lightlife as part of its plan to become a “restaurant of the future” and Pizza Hut’s two new veggie Beyond Sausage Pizzas now available nationwide in the U.S.
McDonald’s has taken it a step further following its new vegetarian breakfast menu made with OmniPork Luncheon in Hong Kong and Macau, revealing that it has now develop its own-brand meatless line called McPlant, which food tech giant Beyond Meat claims it was a co-creator.
Lead image courtesy of Burger King Arabia.