Functional Meets Flavorful: Plant-Based Concepts Keep Growing

Posted in Quick Service Restaurant on August 10, 2021

329_lefteris-kallergis-rbcvIrxw6KA-unsplashAs the chicken sandwich wars continue to reach new heights, it was inevitable that they would dovetail with another major foodservice trend: plant-based chicken. Protein alternatives in the category could rise fast in the pecking order of chicken sandwiches, given high demand for foods that are both flavorful and functional—a combination that COVID-19 has brought to the front burner of foodservice.

Now that the pandemic has put wellness top of mind, foodservice operators and restaurant chains are likely to concept fusions of function and flavor that take favorites like the chicken sandwich to the next level. Functional, flavorful and sustainable, plant-based chicken sandwiches could hit the spot for consumers who demand food options that not only taste good but do good.

Loco for Plant-Based Pollo

With 61% of consumers surveyed either extremely or very interested in functional foods, and protein one of the top five ingredients consumers want most,1 the plant-based chicken sandwich is ready to fly high—and Project Pollo is providing the launchpad. A new quick service concept with a proprietary alternative-chicken product called Chikn, Project Pollo is committed to plant-based “pollo with a purpose,” as the chain’s founder Lucas Bradbury put it.2

While other brands have entered the airspace of the sky’s-the-limit plant-based chicken sandwich market, Bradbury believes Pollo’s recipe provides the perfect taste and texture.

It’s important for us to use a product that resembles the feel and texture of what our guests are used to in regard to real chicken,” he told Nation’s Restaurant News. “We want it to be crispy on the outside with a tender juicy patty that tears and shreds the same. This isn’t a fried piece of tofu. This is the future of chicken.”2

Pollo menus a wide variety of Chikn dishes at its 8 locations, but the brand’s best-seller is The Deluxe, a chicken sandwich that features classic Chikn with Birdy Sauce, pickle, plant-based bacon, lettuce, tomato and smoked gouda cheese.

When it comes to trying Pollo’s palate-pleasing protein alternative, carnivores aren’t exactly chickening out. Over 70% of the chain’s customers aren’t vegan or vegetarians, according to Bradbury, who says that curiosity and a hunger for better-for-you, cholesterol-free and dairy-free options is driving sales.2

Odds of Success in Favor of Odd Burger

Plant-based chicken isn’t the only alternative protein flying high. The Canadian quick service concept Odd Burger (formerly Globally Local Technologies Inc.) went public in April and is now expanding across North America on the strength of $4.2 million in funding.3 Odd Burger offers a three-daypart menu, but the brand’s core offerings are its Famous Burger, a Big Mac-like sandwich made with chickpea patties and without animal byproducts, and the “Vopper,” promoted as “fit for a king or a queen.”

Simplicity and transparency are key ingredients in the brand’s recipe for success. As Odd Burger co-founder and CEO James McInnes explained: “We focus on simpler ingredient profiles. You still feel like you’re getting a treat, but you’re not getting a super high-processed patty with a bunch of ingredients you don’t understand. That’s worked really well for us in Canada.”3

Mondelēz International Foodservice offers a feast of forward-thinking culinary creativity to help your stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing foodservice landscape. Be sure to check out our latest Inspiration Guide for trends and tips to help optimize your menu. For menu solutions tailored to your operation’s needs, reach out below.


1 Mondelēz International Foodservice, 2021 Foodservice Trends: A Look at the Road Ahead

2 Glazer, Fern, “San Antonio-based Project Pollo aims to upend chicken industry with new plant-based product,Nation’s Restaurant News, July 8, 2021

3 Jennings, Lisa, “Newly renamed Odd Burger plots expansion of plant-based fast food across North America,” Nation’s Restaurant News, July 7, 2021

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