Not long ago, vegan and plant-based offerings at fast food restaurants seemed like the way of the future. Now they are I start to look like a relic of the past.
“That’s not a big part of the current focus,” said Josh Kobza, CEO of Restaurant Brands International Inc., Burger King’s parent company. The chain made headlines in 2019 when it became the first major national fast food chain to put an alternative meat burger, the Impossible Whopper, on its regular menu.
Kobza said demand for plant-based options was steady, but added the chain was unlikely to expand those offerings in the U.S. in the near term. Instead, it will focus on what Kobza described as “core” elements of the Burger King experience, such as flame-grilled burgers. Plant-based options are selling better internationally, he said, particularly in Western Europe, but there is “no big change in trends.”
Although Impossible Foods Inc. supplies patties to Burger King’s U.S. restaurants, its use of genetically modified ingredients has kept it out of European markets. Burger King uses different suppliers internationally.
The Impossible Whopper, made from a soy-based vegan patty, was hailed at the time by environmental advocates as an example of a plant-based solution for meat-heavy diets. Animal agriculture is estimated to cause nearly 15% of human-caused greenhouse gases. But to have an impact on emissions, sales of plant-based products would need to increase significantly.
On the positive side, even stable sales are currently good news for plant-based meat producers, given declining consumer interest. THURSDAY, Beyond Meat said demand for its fake meat products was weaker than expected, leading it to cut its full-year revenue forecast for the second time in three months. Market data trackers have reported a decline in sales in this category.