Plant-based meats make menu news

Restaurants are featuring branded products in breakfast sandwiches, burgers and more.
Starbucks Impossible Breakfast Sandwich
Photo courtesy of Starbucks

On Monday, Impossible Foods officially launched Impossible Sausage, making its new faux-meat product available nationally for foodservice. Starbucks got a piece of the action early, introducing the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich to its summer menu last week.

Meanwhile, Burger King expanded the Impossible Croissan’wich to all of its U.S. locations earlier in June. The BK breakfast sandwich layers the imitation sausage with eggs and cheese on a croissant, while Starbucks uses a ciabatta roll as the carrier.

This flurry of activity around plant-based breakfast sausage patties comes as chains get back into marketing new menu items after putting that on the back burner when COVID-19 hit. During a virtual press conference Monday, Impossible Foods’ CEO Pat Brown admitted it is timely to position plant-based meats as a safe and healthy alternative to animal products—especially in light of meat plant closures during the pandemic.

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Beyond Meat

Debuting at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s is the latest version of another plant-based brand: the Beyond Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger. The limited-time offer features a Beyond Burger patty topped with jalapenos, onion rings and pepper jack cheese on a sesame seed bun.

On the casual-dining side, TGI Fridays added three new protein options to its Million Dollar Cobb and Caesar salads. Guests can now customize their salad with a Beyond Meat patty, as well as salmon and sirloin. 

In the past year, there’s been a 140% increase in plant-based meat mentions in Yelp reviews, said Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis during the Impossible Foods press conference. Lewis and Yelp are working with the faux-meat company to identify America’s best diners. The goal is to get the new product onto the menus of the top 30 breakfast-centric, independent restaurants categorized as diners, and Impossible Foods will reward them with a free supply of the plant-based sausage patties.

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