‘It’s Not A Joke’: Pizza Hut France Adds La Vie Plant-Based Ham on All Menu Items for the Same Price

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French food tech startup La Vie has expanded its foodservice footprint via a deal with Pizza Hut France, which will see its plant-based ham be available on demand for all of the chain’s menu items for 2024.

When Pizza Hut France tweeted on Monday that it was replacing its conventional ham with La Vie’s vegan version, it felt like another April Fool’s joke. That was the consensus on the social media platform too, until the startup responded with: “It’s not a joke.”

It definitely ruffled some feathers, with one user finding the ‘joke’ not funny and saying they’ll boycott the brand, and another – presumably a ham lover – warning the pizza chain it had just lost a customer.

But there was a catch: while Pizza Hut France did switch out all its animal-derived ham with the pea protein ham, it was only doing so for one day. So if you ordered a dish with ham from the restaurant chain yesterday, you ate La Vie ham.

vegan ham
Courtesy: La Vie/Pizza Hut

Starting today, conventional ham is back on the menu, but La Vie’s isn’t going away anywhere, with Pizza Hut making it available as an on-demand option for all its dishes for the rest of the year. And the best part? There’s no extra cost for swapping the hams – Pizza Hut France is offering La Vie without any upcharge.

“Pizza Hut France continues to innovate and doesn’t hesitate to break new ground,” said the company’s regional CMO, Emilie Genty. “Once again, Pizza Hut France is thinking big by collaborating with La Vie, to offer a plant-based alternative to ham on all our ranges: our Pizzas, our Melts, our Pastas, and our starters!”

Jambon végétal on your Pizza Hut order

La Vie says the partnership is built on shared values of conviviality, originality, and deliciousness, and is an extension of the brand’s successful foodservice partnerships. Its flagship bacon rashers and lardons have been a permanent fixture on Burger King menus since May 2022, and the ham was featured in a plant-based version of the iconic jambon beurre by vegan bakery Land&Monkeys.

But this marks the first time La Vie has teamed up with a pizza chain, allowing customers from across the dietary spectrum – vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat-eaters – to integrate a plant-based meat analogue into their pizza orders. Pizza is highly popular in France, one of the leaders in terms of per capita consumption. In fact, in 2015, it tied with the US as the largest pizza consumer in the world.

La Vie’s products have already been available at over 4,600 retail stores and 3,000 restaurants across Europe, and its entry into Pizza Hut’s 126 stores in France continues its mission of a responsible food system transformation. It is already featured as default on menu items like Croq-Monsieur Melts and garlic breads, and pastas, as well as the Queen, Texan BBQ, Jambon Beurre (ham and cheese), and yes, even Hawaiian pizzas.

pizza hut vegan
Courtesy: La Vie/Pizza Hut

Its CMO Romain Jolivet cites a 2024 YouGov survey that revealed one in five French youngsters don’t eat meat, chiefly due to ethical and environmental reasons. “Fast food, being a pillar of the dietary habits of this generation, has already started to make the shift,” he said. “The evidence is with Burger King’s veggie offer representing 20% of sales, but that’s not the case in the pizza sector.”

He added: “That’s why we decided to accelerate the movement in our mission to convince the French to adopt a plant-based diet, while fully preserving gustatory pleasure, with our products rich in plant proteins and made in France, with Pizza Hut France taking the bet to offer all its ham pizzas with the La Vie plant-based alternative to meet this growing demand.”

La Vie originally launched its vegan ham in September, on the back of selling 2.5 million SKUs in the previous 18 months. What stood out immediately was the ingredient list, which comprised just seven ingredients: pea protein (making up 90% of the total composition), soy protein, natural flavourings, radish juice concentrate, salt, acidity regulator (potassium acetate) and vegan lactic acid.

Fast-growing La Vie aids Pizza Hut’s much-needed vegan expansion

The vegan ham is a nutritional powerhouse, with one serving offering 19.5g of protein and only 0.7 grams of saturated fat – compared to 21g of protein and 1g of saturated fat for the country’s market-leading conventional ham. This will appeal to French consumers, for whom health is the main purchasing driver for plant-based meat alternatives, according to a large pan-European survey last year where 51% said it was key.

But an even bigger motivation is the flavour, important to 52% of French consumers. Their concerns will be eased by the (favourable) controversy La Vie has attracted – it was the recipient of a cease-and-desist letter by the pork lobby, which accused it of unfair competition, stating that its plant-based bacon lardons were too similar to their conventional counterparts.

The same poll also suggested that 57% of French consumers reduced their consumption of meat last year. It came against the backdrop of France’s factory farming push and anti-vegan labelling law, which has prohibited plant-based companies from using 21 words like ‘steak’ or ‘beef’, as well as 120 other terms such as ‘cooked fillet’ or ‘poultry’, on product packaging.

However, a coalition of businesses led by vegan whole-cut chicken maker Umiami filed an urgent suspension request in late March asking for the decree to be held back, which is set to come into effect within the next few weeks if there are no responses from the government or the courts. La Vie is part of this group.

la vie ham
Courtesy: Pizza Hut

The Natalie Portman-backed startup has weathered the plant-based meat storm – whether it’s sales declines, negative media coverage or a venture capital drain. It completed an oversubscribed €2M crowdfunding round last September, following a record-breaking €25M in Series A round in January 2022. And, in the first half of 2023, it witnessed a staggering 379% growth compared to the same period in 2022.

Pizza Hut, meanwhile, has expanded its growing vegan footprint internationally by incorporating La Vie’s ham into its menu. The chain uses Beyond Meat’s products and offers Violife’s vegan cheese in the UK, for example (the latter is also available in Germany), and introduced vegan wings in its Australian outposts last year.

That said, an analysis of fast-food menus in nine countries by ProVeg International found that plant-based menu items represent just 8% of Pizza Hut’s overall range, and 5.2% of its mains, placing it fourth on the vegan-friendly list of the Big Five fast-food chains. However, the report did note that the pizza chain is making an effort to offer vegan options, adding that integrating them into the general menu will likely appeal to a wider range of customers, including flexitarians and omnivores.

Offering La Vie’s ham on its dishes is one big step in that direction.


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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