There is No Slowing Down the Plant-Based Meat Train; Hardees Jumps On Board
There is No Slowing Down the Plant-Based Meat Train; Hardees Jumps On Board

The burger brand is the latest in a long line of foodservice franchises adding meatless options to their menus.

Imitation meat brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are revolutionizing the quick-service and fast casual restaurant industry. As plant-based options become more popular, QSR and fast casual brands are partnering with the brands in an attempt to appeal to both long-time vegetarians and a younger, more eco-conscious audience.

Hardee’s is the newest brand to jump on the Beyond Meat train, taking a page from its sister brand Carl Jr.’s playbook and testing two new plant-based menu items due in October. 

It looks like Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s parent company, CKE Restaurants, is eager to get ahead of the competition. Since Carl’s Jr. launched its Beyond Famous Star burger nationwide in January to 1,300-plus locations, the brand sold more than 4 million Beyond Famous Star burgers. The success of the alternative item led CKE to develop a similar product for Hardee’s. 

Some other recent examples of plant-based success include KFC becoming the first national quick service restaurant to introduce plant-based chicken, selling out in just five hours, and Burger King bringing its Impossible Whopper nationwide, experiencing a 17% increase in visits. White Castle’s Impossible Slider created a huge level of buzz, while Taco Bell, Subway, Dunkin’ and Tim Hortons have all recently added meat-free options to their menus.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all coming up roses for these brands—while the meat alternatives require only a fraction of the resources of real meat, the production process is comparatively expensive and time-consuming. Beyond Meat even experienced a shortage of supply earlier this year, resulting in a company-wide scramble to meet the rise in demand.

Still, the plant-based movement can't be stopped—with endorsements from huge, A-list celebrities like Katy Perry, Jay-Z and Serena Williams and partnerships with major processors, it appears meatless is just as juicy of an option for franchises as its animal alternative.