Is it still KFC without the chicken?
The U.K. arm of the storied fried chicken chain is putting the idea to the test with a meatless offering that promises all the secret herbs and spices without the company’s best-known ingredient.
The company is touting the move as an attempt to offer a healthier, lower-calorie option for diners who are increasingly avoiding traditional fast-food fare.
As fast food chains scramble to provide healthier alternatives to traditional menus known for high caloric fries and sugary sodas, KFC U.K. shared its plans to add vegetarian fried chicken to the registry.
The creation of a new meat-free, chicken-inspired option is part of KFC U.K.’s mission to cut their calories per serving by 20%. The chicken chain also plans to introduce a variety of meals under 600 calories by 2020.
The company turned to its head of food innovation, nutritionist Victoria Robertson, to explain the company’s plan for its creation.
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Victoria said: “We know people are more passionate than ever about eating well, and we face a big challenge in shifting their perceptions of what we offer.
“We’ve done it before, though—the success of our Riceboxes has shown that our fans will go for lighter options from us.
“That said, we know any new menu and recipe changes will have to be just as tasty as today.
“It’s a tricky challenge, because our fans absolutely love our Original Recipe chicken, and we won’t be changing the Colonel’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.
“This is about providing choice, and offering delicious, signature KFC taste that just happens to be lighter.”
KFC is not the only company looking to shake up its established menu.
This is certainly surprising news for a global food chain that’s predicated on serving fatty meat. At the same time, vegetarian alternatives may now finally become more standard for larger restaurants. Taco Bell, for instance, has long offered beans as a vegetarian filling. Other big chains like Burger King have offered veggie burger alternatives. And most recently Shake Shack has gone beyond its cheese-filled mushroom burger by testing out a new beet-based veggie patty that can be served vegan.
In the U.S. market, KFC has no plans for meatless chicken offerings “at this time,” however food industry experts say vegetarianism is on the rise and the restaurant industry is looking to meet changing demand.
Orlando-based global restaurant consultant Aaron Allen predicts large restaurant companies increasingly unveil more vegetarian options, like KFC’s.
“How sharply has vegetarianism increased in the U.S.? Double and triple digits,” he said. “We’re talking about millions of people dramatically changing their diets. Chains will take note of that and change their menu offerings.”
Vegetarians on Twitter rejoiced at the news, seeing it as a sign of a changing world.
— Sue Guzman (@sueguzman) June 6, 2018
A sign of the changing times! ð¥ðð¤ð¥©
(hopefully the KFC option will be vegan rather than just vegetarian) pic.twitter.com/fcCWjnB5CY
— Kate Louise Powell â (@KatePow3ll) May 30, 2018
Others were skeptical of meatless chicken’s culinary potential:
— Kathy Smith (@Kat_krochet) June 6, 2018
Not sure I would want to try it anyway – KFC to sell vegetarian fried chicken in the UK | London Evening Standard https://t.co/LhCqONVrlC
— Dipa Vaya (@DipaJVaya) June 6, 2018
Still others poked fun at the placement of modifiers:
RT @nowthisnews: KFC is going to test vegetarian fried chicken <— Who would’ve thought chickens were carnivores?
— Gus (@SegunGus) June 6, 2018
What do you think of KFC’s announcement—and the future of fast food—PR Daily readers?