The mainstream appeal for plant-based protein isn't slowing down in 2019.
— Erika Adams
Beyond Meat, the plant-based protein startup that recently filed for an initial public offering, has signed its largest restaurant chain partner to date: CKE Restaurants’ quick-serve burger shop Carl’s Jr.
The fast food chain is launching the Beyond Famous Star Burger, a new Beyond Meat menu item starting at $6.29, in over 1,000 locations starting January 2nd. Customers at participating locations will also have the option to substitute a Beyond Burger patty on any other sandwich for $2.
“We know people are looking for options — in fact, roughly one-third of consumers identify as flexitarians — and we’re thrilled to partner with Beyond Meat to bring more delicious, irresistible flavors to our menu,” Jason Marker, CEO of CKE Restaurants, said in a statement.
Carl’s Jr. is the latest in a string of fast-food restaurant chains to incorporate a plant-based burger option on the menu right alongside the beef counterpart. A&W Canada launched a Beyond Burger option in July 2018 and it sold out across over 900 locations in just a few weeks. TGI Fridays put the Beyond Burger on its menu nationwide (over 450 locations) in January 2018. Plant-based protein competitor Impossible Foods signed a nationwide partnership with White Castle (377 locations) in September 2018.
Signing deals with fast-food chains like Carl Jr.’s is central to Beyond Meat’s formula for success. The marketing strategy showcases the plant-based protein as just another burger option on the menu, meant for meat-eaters and plant-eaters alike. The company successfully pushed to market its faux meat right alongside regular beef in grocery stores (its largest revenue stream) and the Beyond Burger is marketed the same way on restaurant menus — not separate from the other beef burgers, but rather another equal option.
Sales from the Beyond Burger, in both restaurants and grocery stores, accounted for 71 percent of the company’s overall revenue in the first nine months of 2018, according to Beyond Meat regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
CKE Restaurants is a privately held company that oversees multiple franchised restaurant chains, including Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. There are over 3,800 franchised and company-operated Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s in operation globally.