U.S. Markets closed

Beyond Meat expands plant-based fried chicken at KFC

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

The sizzling pace of buzzworthy fast-food deals for Beyond Meat (BYND) this year continues.

Beyond Meat said Wednesday it will expand a test of its plant-based fried chicken at Yum! Brands-owned KFC to Charlotte, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee and Kentucky. About 66 restaurants in total will receive what Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown tells Yahoo Finance is a newly improved chicken product from an initial test at one KFC location in Atlanta last August.

At least judging by the photos Beyond Meat shared with Yahoo Finance (see below), the chicken nuggets pull apart very comparable to actual chicken. And, it just looks like chicken — which in large part likely reflects the outsized investment by Beyond Meat in R&D (11% of revenue) and Brown’s push to constantly reinvent products.

“There is nothing else on the market like it,” Brown says.

If only Colonel Sanders were still alive to see this stuff.

“We do everything we can to keep the Colonel proud. I think the Colonel would be very proud on what we are doing here with Beyond fried chicken,” KFC U.S. CMO Andrea Zahumensky told Yahoo Finance. Zahumensky notes demand for Beyond fried chicken at the Atlanta test store was off the charts, encouraging them to move forward with a wider rollout.

KFC gets more plant-based meat from Beyond Meat.

Brown says Beyond Meat is setup from a production standpoint to handle a rollout of Beyond fried chicken to all 4,000-plus U.S. KFC locations. That may be the next logical step, Brown hinted. Zahumensky says there are no tests underway at KFC’s international locations.

The KFC expansion is the latest headline-grabbing win for Beyond Meat.

On Monday, Denny’s divulged plans to take its Beyond Burger to 1,700 locations following a successful response to tests at select locations. Earlier this month, McDonald’s said it would bring the Beyond Burger to more locations in Canada after several tests late in 2019.

When asked why Beyond Meat is winning these big deals in such a growing competitive backdrop, Brown says it comes down to approach and not being distracted.

“I think it’s just this relentless focus on the product, and it’s talk less to do more. We just want to meet the consumer where the consumer wants to be,” Brown explained.

The barrage of news has fueled a 60% surge in Beyond Meat’s stock price this year, as investors wager the company turns sustainably profitable. Wall Street has also grown optimistic about Beyond Meat’s potential overseas following a new pea protein supply agreement.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Watch The First Trade each day here at 9:00 a.m. ET or on Verizon FIOS channel 604. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on the future of retail

4 major concerns investors have about the stock market in 2020

Trump's tax plan will hurt restaurants again in 2020: Dunkin' chair

Watch: Target is Yahoo Finance’s ‘Company of the Year’

Beyond Meat founder: things are going very well with McDonald’s

Starbucks CEO on what China has in store for the coffee giant

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.