American consumers have new meat-free chicken options for the dinner table thank to U.K.-based vegan fried chick*n brand VFC, which has officially expanded into the U.S. market via online retail partners including GTFO and Vejii. The announcement comes after the company closed a $10.2 million seed round last month earmarked for global growth.
VFC’s products, included fillets, bites, and popcorn vegan chicken, are created using wheat protein and feature a Southern-style crispy cornflake coating that will be familiar to US consumers. The company cites high protein levels and comparable taste to longtime favourite fast food brands.
Veganuary co-founder Matthew Glover and chef/restaurateur Adam Lyons co-founded VFC in 2020 to prove that there is no need to include animals in the food system. With activism at its core, the brand has placed a blanket ban on the term ‘plant-based’ being used in its communications, preferring vegan instead.
VFC is prolific about its mission to disrupt the meat industry in the U.S. The company cites the ongoing climate crisis and cruel factory farming system as primary motivations for developing an alternative to fried chicken. It goes so far as to say that its products are a way of “sticking it to [KFC’s]The Colonel”.
“I am a businessman turned activist and love great food, and VFC is very much a marriage of the three,” Matthew Glover, co-founder of VFC said. “There are many ways to dismantle unjust systems, and we intend VFC to be part of the movement that puts an end to factory farming for good.”
VFC claims that so far, it has saved close to 75,000 chickens entering the food system. It aims to significantly increase this number as it makes its mark in the fried chicken-loving U.S.
“The U.S. gave the world KFC, and we’re keen to return the favour with VFC – an alternative which is kinder to animals and our planet,” added Glover.
A growing appetite for vegan chicken
The U.S. appears to be acquiring a taste for meat-free chicken. Earlier this month it was revealed that TiNDLE, Next Gen Foods’ flagship brand, has scooped a record $100 million Series A. Investment was raised for continued development, ahead of planned U.S. distribution. The chicken will be available across 50 states, with new products being formulated alongside.
The Super Bowl, which aired earlier this month, saw consumers eat an estimated 160 million vegan chicken wings, according to Compassion in World Farming who conducted the research. Last year’s Super Bowl event saw almost 1.5 billion conventional chicken wings consumed.
Even big names, including VFC’s target, KFC, have been getting in on the plant-based chicken game. Timed to coincide with Glover’s Veganuary project, KFC U.S. announced all of its locations would serve Beyond Chicken products, claiming it was “time”. However, they are all cooked in the same oil as regular animal meat, making them unsuitable for vegan consumers.
All photos by VFC.