Date
22 September 2018
KFC plans to sell a vegetarian equivalent of its famous chicken, with a trial to begin in the UK market. Photo: Bloomberg
KFC plans to sell a vegetarian equivalent of its famous chicken, with a trial to begin in the UK market. Photo: Bloomberg

Why ‘meatless meat’ will become increasingly popular

Fast-food chain KFC plans to sell a vegetarian equivalent of its famous chicken offering.

The company will introduce the faux chicken product first in the UK market next year. Though ingredients of fake chicken aren’t disclosed, it’s very likely that these alternatives are made from beans, nuts and other plant material.

KFC said the new products are perfectly suitable for vegetarians.

Speaking of faux meat products, several mid-tier fast-food chains, including White Castle, Bareburger and Fatburger, have already made forays into vegetarian dishes.

Goldman Sachs, in a report released in December 2017, called “meatless meat” one of the hottest emerging trends together with AI and big data.

US consumers spent around US$700 million on meat substitutes in 2017, up 26 percent from 2012, according to research firm Euromonitor International. Meanwhile, UK consumers are said to have spent US$374.1 million on such items last year, up 56.2 percent from 2012.

Nevertheless, that only represents a small fraction of traditional meat consumption. Annual sales of traditional meat exceed US$90 billion in US market alone.

Up to 40 percent of American consumers said they are willing to try plant-based alternatives to replace traditional meat, according to market research consultant Survergoo. And more than 10 million consumers are actively eating plant-based food.

The choice is sensible. Consumers increasingly seek out healthier food. And some of them go for vegetarian dishes for environmental protection purpose.

It’s reported that producing one kilogram of meat requires 10 kilograms of feed as well as large amount of water and farmland. Therefore, the switch to plant-based meat can considerably reduce carbon emissions.

Certainly, many are still skeptical about such non-natural food, worrying about adverse impact on the human body.

But even billionaire Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, has invested in a number of plant-based food companies, including Impossible Foods and Hampton Creek. According to reports, the tycoon has also tried the products for a couple of years.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 12

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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