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KFC has just made another move to expand its plant-based options, this time launching vegan fried chicken in Thailand. Partnering with Meat Zero, the Yum Brands-owned fast food chain will begin rolling out 100% plant-based fried chicken across its Green Stores in the country and possibly extend distribution in the coming months.
KFC Thailand has just added plant-based fried chicken to its menus in two of its Green Stores. The dishes, Plant-Based Chicken Pop and Spicy Rice Bowl with Plant-Based Chicken Pop, which will be available in 6 different combos and meal sets in the two outlets, are made using the vegan analogue made by Meat Zero, a homegrown plant-based brand launched by Bangkok-based food giant CPF.
While the popcorn chicken alternatives alone are confirmed to be 100% vegan, it is unclear whether KFC Thailand will be cooking the product in the same fryer with other animal-based menu items, or whether the sauce or dips contain other non-vegan ingredients, as reported by Root The Future. Meat Zero’s own range of products, while completely meat-free, are not 100% vegan, such as its chicken nugget substitute which contains eggs and is vegetarian-friendly.
‘Attracting new generations’
According to KFC Thailand, the latest menu additions is part of the QSR chain’s plans to capture the growing numbers of mainstream flexitarians and vegans.
In June 2020, Mintel data showed that over half of urban Thai consumers are now looking to reduce meat consumption—and 45% of this group are specifically aiming to follow a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet.
In a statement, KFC Thailand said the new offerings were “aimed at attracting new generations who become more conscientious about their health and sustainable consumption.” It has worked with Meat Zero to create dishes tailored to the local Thai market to “present an alternative” to mass consumers.
“Consumers will barely notice that the chicken they are eating is made from plants,” said Yum Brands’ Thailand general manager Waewkanee Assoratgoon. “Whenever they want to skip real meat, they can come to us and they will still enjoy the familiar delicacy.”
While initially only available in KFC Thailand’s Green Stores in Saengsom Building and Wanachai Depot Chachoengsao, KFC described its latest move as part of its ongoing plant-based “roadmap” in the country, suggesting that more outlets will serve vegan chicken in the future.
The chain’s fast food rival Burger King has also added plant-based options recently, working with Aussie food tech v2food to launch the Plant-Based Whopper across 100 locations.
KFC’s alt-protein push
KFC Thailand’s plant-based expansion is aligned with the fast food chain’s global shift towards alternative proteins, in a bid to keep up with increasingly conscious consumers.
It recently launched a meat-free burger in Singapore, rolled out vegan chicken nuggets in China and is even working on developing lab-grown chicken nuggets in Russia.
But perhaps the biggest move KFC has made so far is the global partnership between food tech giant Beyond Meat and the chain’s operator Yum Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. The two firms are set to co-create new plant-based protein menu items exclusive to all three QSR brands, which together have reach of over 50,000 restaurants in 150 countries.
October 2021: This article has been updated with additional information about the products’ suitability to vegans or vegetarians.
Lead image courtesy of KFC Thailand.