UK Plant-Based Meat Player THIS Launches Vegan Chicken Thighs

4 Mins Read

UK plant-based meat challenger brand THIS is launching the country’s first nationally distributed vegan chicken thighs, starting with Tesco next week.

THIS, the cult-favourite plant-based meat brand, is rolling out a first-to-market vegan chicken thigh SKU in the UK next week. The product is the only nationally distributed plant-based chicken thigh, and will be introduced at the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, on May 13.

Available in packs of four, the THIS Isn’t Chicken Thighs cost £3.80, with the company noting it could be used across a variety of dishes, such as traybakes, burgers, curries and stews. Made from a blend of soy and fava bean protein, they can be used whole, too, and cooked in a pan or in the oven.

“We’re reinventing the way people experience plant-based dining,” said recently appointed CEO Mark Cuddigan. “We’re on a mission to lead a revolution to change what people eat, to protect animals and the environment – and with our ridiculously delicious and nutritious plant-based food, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate plant-based chicken thigh.”

Patent-pending tech enables realistic vegan chicken thighs

vegan chicken thighs
Courtesy: THIS

The new chicken thighs are touted to be high in protein and fibre, with a similar recipe to its flagship THIS Isn’t Chicken Pieces SKU. It will appeal to the increasingly health-conscious UK consumer – a 1,000-person survey from last year found that health benefits are the top reason why Brits eat plant-based meat, cited by 39% of respondents.

But the whole-cut nature of the new product is the biggest differentiator from the chicken pieces. The company binds together soy and fava bean protein with an olive-oil-based fat to mimic the texture of thighs, which are then coated in a layer of seaweed to replicate the structure and texture of chicken skin.

This meaty, fibrous cut is achieved through THIS’s extrusion technology, which has three pending patents. Whole-cut products like thighs, wings and legs have complex, three-dimensional structures, where protein fibres are bound together by a network of connective tissue and intramuscular fat. This provides the juiciness and texture associated with these meats, which THIS said it has managed to recreate in its chicken thigh analogue.

It’s not the company’s first whole-cut meat either. It also makes plant-based chicken breast and roast chicken and stuffing SKUs, both of which have been launched in the last eight months.

THIS has gone from strength to strength

this isn't chicken
Courtesy: THIS

The new product comes at a time of rapid progress for THIS, which says it is the fastest-growing brand in the plant-based meat segment. The company’s sales were up by 46.6% last year, and volumes rose by 66.6%, according to NielsenIQ data for the Grocer’s Top Products survey. Its annualised revenue reached £24M last year.

This has been aided by a range of new products. Within its chicken range, the roast chicken SKU was the best-performing line in the category in 2023, even though it was only introduced in September. But the company also launched a chicken and bacon pie in partnership with Pieminster around the same time, and this year alone, it has rolled out the chicken breast, chicken shawarma, frozen beef mince, as well as skin-on chicken wings in collaboration with BrewDog.

“Innovation has been a core part of its growth over the last two years as it has diversified into a wider range of segments, including frozen, ready meals and food to go, as well as continuing to launch new products in its core segment of chilled meat alternatives,” NielsenIQ senior insight analyst Carol Ratcliffe told the Grocer last year.

THIS marketing director Dee Bulsara added. “The number one THIS rule is that we don’t proceed to launch unless we think the product can trick a meat-eater once it’s in a dish.”

The company has recently undergone a change in leadership as well, with Cuddigan taking over from founders and former co-CEOs Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman in February (who remain involved in the business). While THIS is aiming to have its first profitable quarter this year, the larger meat-free category in the UK has suffered, with sales down by £38.4M last year.

“For too long, there’s been too many brands with wildly varying product quality, that have put off meat reducers from truly believing in the category. It’s also been confusing to shop – no supermarket needs to list 15 types of plant-based sausage,” Shovel told Green Queen last year. “We’re now at a stage where the sector is consolidating and poor-quality brands are coming out the market, with more brands consumers can trust and shelves that are way easier to navigate.”


  • 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.

You might also like