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More Big Brands Get Behind Plant-Based Burger Bonanza

Two recent, industry-changing announcements from food giants Carl’s Jr. and Nestlé mean more dining options for health- and environment-conscious consumers that might not violate their New Year’s resolutions.

Two recent, industry-changing announcements from food giants Carl’s Jr. and Nestlé mean more dining options for health- and environment-conscious consumers that might not violate their New Year’s resolutions.

Beyond Meat, Carl’s Jr. launch Beyond Famous Star® at more than 1,000 locations

First, clean meat innovator and Silicon Valley darling Beyond Meat has partnered with fast-food giant Carl’s Jr. to launch The Beyond Famous Star — a first-of-its-kind flexitarian take on the Carl’s Jr.’s fan favorite Famous Star, with a 100 percent plant-based, quarter-pound patty from Beyond Meat cooked on an open flame in Carl’s Jr.’s unique char broiler. The Beyond Burger patty is free of GMOs, gluten and soy, and has lower saturated fat than regular beef, but still delivers tons of flame-broiled flavor and 20g of protein.

“We know people are looking for options — in fact, roughly one-third1of consumers identify as flexitarians — and we’re thrilled to partner with Beyond Meat to bring more delicious, irresistible flavors to our menu,” said Jason Marker, CEO of Carl’s Jr. parent company, CKE Restaurants. “The new Beyond Famous Star is a true industry game-changer, and we’re proud to add it to our roster of innovative offerings and build on the legacy of mouthwatering flavors.”

According to the announcement, retail data from one supermarket chain this summer found that more than 90 percent of customers who purchased The Beyond Burger also purchased animal-based protein, showing Beyond Meat's appeal among meat eaters who want to continue to eat the things they love, while incorporating more plant-based options. Working to serve that consumer need, Carl’s Jr. is proud to be the largest restaurant chain to date in the United States to offer The Beyond Burger on-menu. Combined with White Castle’s introduction of Impossible FoodsImpossible Sliders in September, the move helps make climate-friendly fast-food options more readily available across the US.

“I have long looked forward to the day when my kids can go to a major fast-food chain and order The Beyond Burger. I am grateful to say that day has arrived,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat founder & CEO. “At our core, Beyond Meat is about enabling consumers to Eat What You LoveTM, and there is no better example than being able to enjoy a delicious Carl’s Jr. burger, while receiving the added health and sustainability benefits of the plant-based Beyond Burger. It is with innovative and forward-looking partners like Carl’s Jr. that we are building a brighter and more sustainable future.”

Beginning today, the Beyond Famous Star is available at participating Carl’s Jr. restaurants. Fans looking to Go Beyond™ can order The Beyond Burger patty on any Carl’s Jr. sandwich for $2 extra.

Nestlé adds ‘Incredible Burger’ to appeal to vegan market

Image credit: Nestlé

Meanwhile, Nestlé SA has hopped on the plant-based burger bandwagon with the announcement of its Incredible Burger, a soy- and wheat-based patty to be introduced under the Garden Gourmet label this spring, that marks the Swiss food giant’s biggest push yet into the booming vegan market.

A report released in early 2018 found Nestlé to be one of the top two companies (along with Tesco) positioned to capitalize on the rising demand for alternative proteins. Indeed, in the past two years, the company has acquired California-based Sweet Earth and Ecuador’s Terrafil, both pioneers in the plant-based foods space. Now, the Incredible Burger will also help the company satisfy the surge in demand for plant-based proteins spurred by the continued shift in consumer awareness around sustainability. Laurent Freixe, CEO of the Americas region, told Bloomberg that the Swiss company’s plant-based business may reach more than 1 billion francs ($1 billion) in sales within a decade.

“While digging deeper into consumer trends, we found they changed a bit in the last couple of years depending on how consumers define a healthy diet,” Nestlé’s Chief Technology Officer Stefan Palzer told Bloomberg. “Vegetarianism has never been this popular before and it’s here to stay, I’m convinced about that.”

In recent years, the world’s largest food company has moved to change its image as primarily a purveyor of chocolate and other sweet treats. Under the leadership of CEO Mark Schneider, who took the helm in early 2017, Nestlé has adopted a new strategic goal to turn itself into a “nutrition, health and wellness” company; moves to this effect include the sale last year of its US confectionery business to Ferrero and acquisition of a 68 percent stake in bespoke, slow-drip brew specialist Blue Bottle Coffee, as part of a series of deals aimed at shifting consumer attitudes against big brands.