In the fall of 2019, Taco Bell announced the addition of a vegetarian menu to their already veg-friendly standard menu that includes the ability to order an item as “Fresco” which removes the “dairy” products and adds a fresh pico de gallo in its place.
In early January of this year, Taco Bell said they were going to be providing “the most vegetarian choices” which involves changes to their menu and app that makes it even easier for customers to order vegan and vegetarian options.
As plant-based diets and veganism skyrocket in popularity setting both consumer demands, expectations and predicting where this new decade is headed Taco bell is embracing the meat alternatives as their new chief executive officer (CEO) announces their new plans.
The Yum! Brands Inc. owned company is adding plant-based vegan proteins in the next year said Taco Bell CEO Mark King in an interview with Bloomberg.
That’s a huge reversal from Taco Bell’s previous management strategy earlier that revolved around sticking to a vegetarian-only marketing strategy.
“We definitely see that plant-based protein has a place on the menu,” King said.
King has taken meetings with plant-based vegan meat manufacturers Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods in the past few months.
King and the company have yet to make a decision on what mock meat will be featured on the menu he explained in the interview.
Yum Brands is placing a lot of importance on Taco Bell’s growth as they are struggling to revive brands like Pizza Hut with store remodeling that focuses on takeout.
They also are looking to make Pizza Hut carbon neutral and dairy-free in the UK by 2030 they recently announced.
Along with capitalizing on delivery through apps, Taco Bell has also recently begun to use many more digital options to entice their customers.
That has helped the chain widen their customer base in the highly competitive fast-food industry with store sales jumping up 4% in their last quarter.
While Taco Bell weighs their decision on which alternative meat to choose competitors are also racing into the new exploding plant-based market as consumers choose more cruelty-free, healthier, and environmentally friendly options at the drive-thru.
McDonald’s is testing their PLT Beyond Meat burger in Canada as is Wendy’s, while Burger King already had a blowout success last year when testing their Impossible Whopper.
So much so that Burger King launched it nationally in the U.S. at their more than 7,000 location to even more success.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is also getting in on the action with more than 70 cities in the U.S. testing their Beyond Meat Beyond Fried Chicken, followed by many restaurants like Denny’s carrying Beyond Burgers.
King said he sampled Beyond Meat’s items just last week and he’s a fan.
“I tried all the food which was really exciting, and way beyond my expectation,” said King, the former Adidas CEO who took over at Taco Bell back in August.
Monthly average searches for the word “vegan” with the name of a major fast-food chain included alongside it rose 12 percent from 2018 to 2019 according to Fast Company.
Checking Google stats show that the search term “Vegan Taco Bell” is ranked number one with 456,500 total searches from January 2018 to August 2019.
In comparison “Vegan Starbucks” came in second with 216,500 total searches, and “Vegan Burger King” came in third with 127,700.
Taco Bell bringing plant-based vegan meats to the U.S. comes hot on the heels of their “Oatrageous Taco” launch in Finland, Spain and other countries throughout Europe which actually came as quite a surprise after the company said they wouldn’t be adding vegan meats to their menu.
The “Oatrageous Taco” is made from oats and beans with a marination in a sauce of “secret Taco Bell spices”. The oat meat can be substituted in place of any of the traditional animal flesh-based menu items.