Every lifestyle change is an adjustment, and you might have come across a few struggles, for vegans, particularly is when you have to dine at fast-food chains. It’s even more of a challenge when that said fast-food chain is KFC, as the name literally has the word chicken in it! The chain is renowned for its deep-fried chicken nuggets that come in a bucket with their signature Colonel Sanders logo. So, it came as a bit of a surprise when the fast-food giant announced the launch of a plant-based version of their beloved chicken nuggets.

KFC’s Vegan Nuggets Receive Overwhelming Positive Feedback

KFC is the biggest fast-food chain in China with over 5,000 outlets across the country and is owned by Yum China, which also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. In late April, the fast-food giant announced plans of testing a plant-based version of its chicken nuggets in the selected Chinese cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. As the economy is easing up after the coronavirus pandemic, and plant-based trends continuing to grow fast in China, this was a smart move on KFC’s part. Yum China collaborated with Cargill to produce plant-based chicken nuggets. They are made with good plant protein from sources like wheat, soy, and pea protein. Cargill recently announced plans to expand its range of meat substitute products, including burger patties and plant-based ground meat.

The Future of Food

The nuggets were to be sold with five pieces per serving. The nuggets were available for sale between April 28th and April 30th. Customers had to purchase pre-sale coupons, with each customer limited to two coupons. KFC’s new vegan product received such an overwhelmingly positive response across Chinese social media, and the coupons were sold out in Shanghai within one hour. Most consumers who bought the product believed it to be healthier and more environmentally friendly compared to its chicken counterpart. It is also interesting to note that the plant-based trend has started to grow more rapidly in China after the Covid-19 pandemic.

How Covid-19 Affected Plant-Based Product Sales

The pandemic severely affected China’s poultry production, and people are more reluctant to buy animal products due to the coronavirus’s alleged animal origins. The pandemic has also put a spanner in China’s meat supply chain, with meat imports being restricted. Even last year, the African Swine Flu (ASF) outbreak resulted in a pork meat shortage. This prompted Beyond Meat to announce its expansion to Asia to capture the growing plant-based market. 

Fears Grow in China Around Return of Shrimp Virus

More recently, there has also been a second outbreak of Div1 virus, affecting shrimp populations. Hence, as more people learn about how easy it is to transmit diseases between animals and humans, the demand for meat substitutes will grow in the foreseeable future. KFC has received equally positive responses to its plant-based product launches outside China. In Canada, KFC’s plant-based chicken sold out within a few hours. In the UK, they introduced the Zero Chicken Burger in early 2020 and subsequently sold over a million burgers. Delving further into the Asian market, KFC also introduced two completely vegan products in Vietnam.

Photo by Jason Yuen on Unsplash