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Burger King has added a plant-based version of its famous Whopper to its menus across Asia, partnering up with different vegan meat producers to meet growing mainstream consumer demand. While the fast food giant has opted for Australian startup v2food’s patties in Japan and the Philippines, in the Chinese market, the plant-based burgers will be supplied by Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher.
After initially launching plant-based burgers across Europe and the U.S., supplied by The Vegetarian Butcher and the food tech giant Impossible Foods respectively, Burger King has now chosen to expand its plant-based whopper offerings to its menus across Asia. It has again partnered up with different startups across Asian markets to supply the plant-based patties, with Sydney-based v2food producing the burgers for its outlets in Japan and Philippines, while The Vegetarian Butcher’s burger analogues feature on the menus in China.
Currently, Japanese outlets of Burger King will be offering the meatless burger option on a limited-time basis, but in the Philippines, the plant-based whopper will feature as a menu staple nationwide, following its initial roll-out in Manila and Luzon. In China, the plant-based whopper is available in over 325 locations across the key cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, with Unilever stating that a nationwide launch is planned in Q2 this year.
Both The Vegetarian Butcher and v2food’s plant-based burger patties are made from a base of soy and natural flavourings, and contain high levels of protein comparable to its animal-based counterparts, but are 100% cruelty-free and come without the environmental impact associated with meat production.
Like its classic Whopper, the new plant-based versions will feature all the regular toppings such as pickles, fresh lettuce, tomato and onion, sandwiched between its toasted sesame bun. Topped with ketchup and conventional mayonnaise, the meatless burger – though not vegan-friendly – is billed as suitable for vegetarians. The fast food giant additionally notes that the plant-based burger patties will be cooked on shared equipment with its regular meat-based menu items.
Outside of Asia, V2food, who recently closed a record-breaking US$55 million Series B round, produces the plant-based Rebel Whopper at Burger King-franchise Hungry Jack’s across Australia, and at Burger King locations in New Zealand.
On the other hand, The Vegetarian Butcher supplies its patties to Burger King locations across the Middle East and North African and Latin American and Carribean, including in the key markets of the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Costa Rica. The brand is also partnered with the burger chain in Europe, where both its patties and plant-based chicken nuggets feature on menus.
The Vegetarian Butcher’s mission is to become the largest butcher in the world by offering amazingly tasty products and inspiring a food revolution that promotes more sustainable options.Hugo Verkuil, CEO, The Vegetarian Butcher
The strong global roll-out of The Vegetarian Butcher’s products is a part of its parent corporation Unilever’s plan to meet its ambitious new annual sales goal of €1 billion (US$1.19 billion) for its plant-based meat and dairy category.
Speaking about its latest partnership with Burger King in the massive Chinese market, The Vegetarian Butcher CEO Hugo Verkuil said: “The Vegetarian Butcher’s mission is to become the largest butcher in the world by offering amazingly tasty products and inspiring a food revolution that promotes more sustainable options.”
The move by one of the world’s most famous burger chains is a strong sign of the growing pressure that QSR chains are now facing to ramp up their meat-free offerings in line with global consumer trends. Burger King pioneered alt protein menu partnerships back in August 2019 when it debuted the Impossible Foods Whopper across U.S. outlets.
Other QSR giants have too hopped on board, including KFC, who has partnered with Beyond Meat, Quorn, & Lightlife as part of its plan to become a “restaurant of the future”, while Pizza Hut collaborated with Beyond Meat to bring plant-based meat pizzas across the U.S and Starbucks debuted the Impossible breakfast sausage both in Hong Kong and 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 developed 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.