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Beyond Meat shares surge 4% as KFC nears launch of plant-based chicken

January 5, 2022, 3:22 PM UTC

Beyond Meat Inc. rose after Yum! Brands Inc. confirmed that its KFC restaurants will start selling plant-based chicken on Jan. 10.

Beyond Fried Chicken will be offered for a limited time at KFC restaurants across the U.S., the companies said Wednesday in a statement. The product will be available as a combo meal or a la carte in six- or 12-piece orders. Prices start at $6.99, excluding taxes, and may vary by location.

The launch marks a new step in the partnership between the two brands. KFC in 2020 tested faux-chicken nuggets from Beyond Meat in about 70 locations in two states after the success of an initial trial. 

At the time, the companies had said they were looking to offer a product that looked and tasted like real meat sliced from a chicken. In September, KFC’s U.S. head, Kevin Hochman, told Bloomberg News that the goal was to replicate a tenderloin or strip piece of chicken with whole muscle fibers.

Beyond Meat and KFC said Wednesday that the plant-based chicken isn’t prepared in a vegan or vegetarian manner. Plans for the launch were first reported Tuesday afternoon by CNBC.

Beyond shares gained as much as 7.2% Wednesday and were up 4.4% to $64.31 at 9:36 a.m. in New York.

Yum’s Taco Bell chain is also working with Beyond Meat to create a plant-based protein. Taco Bell canceled an earlier planned test of a faux carne asada from Beyond Meat, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Plant-based foods are resonating with consumers amid mounting concern about the environment and the welfare of animals. The biggest restaurant chains, including McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King, have partnered with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods Inc. to offer plant-based foods in recent years. 

For El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat, pressure is rising to produce new hit products follow a steady decline in the company’s share price. The company’s earnings and revenue projection in November disappointed Wall Street and sent the stock sharply lower. It has been trading lately at its lowest level since April 2020. 

Following a series of departures from its leadership ranks, Beyond Meat recently announced the addition of two former executives from Tyson Foods Inc. to oversee operations and supply chain as the maker of plant-based meat ramps up production to support expansion in both retailers and restaurants. 

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