Burger King goes after meatless burgers

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Dusseldorf Fast food chains have always had a merciless competition for the best burgers. In the past it was about the juiciest beef, so today's are burgers that taste like meat, but contain none. Because even fast-food fans are increasingly paying attention to healthy and sustainable nutrition.

"We have received a great deal of positive feedback on the introduction of 'Big Vegan TS' and are also satisfied with the sales figures," says McDonald's Germany. Also conceivable are temporary variants with altered recipes to offer customers something new.

Now rival Burger King is catching up: the meatless "Rebel Whopper" is now available in more than 25 countries in Europe, as the Handelsblatt learned in advance. Main ingredients are sustainable soy, wheat, vegetable oil, herbs and onions. The vegan patties come from the company "The Vegetarian Butcher". Nestlé competitor Unilever had bought the Dutch former start-up in January, which has already sold in 17 countries.

Jaap Korteweg, founder of "The Vegetarian Butcher" and a ninth-generation farmer, welcomes the collaboration with Burger King: "When I founded 'The Vegetarian Butcher' nine years ago, my goal was to be the largest butcher in the world. I wanted to create products for meat lovers that have the same taste and feel, but are vegetable. "Korteweg was a great meat lover before he decided to become a vegetarian after the swine flu.

Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever Foods & Refreshment, is pleased to partner with the well-known Burger King brand less than a year after the acquisition of "The Vegetarian Butcher" in the Netherlands.

In the US, Burger King already has another supplier for vegan patties. The American start-up Impossible Foods has been delivering patties for the "Impossible Whopper" since April. These consist mainly of soybeans and potatoes, coconut and sunflower oil. The burgers have 15 percent less fat and 90 percent less cholesterol than regular whoppers.

"Impossible Whopper" a great success in the US

The "Impossible Whopper" was so successful that by the end of 2019 it is to be included in the assortment of almost 7300 Burger King restaurants in the USA. Vegans, however, criticize the vegan patties being grilled on the same grid as meat patties.

Also in Germany, the "Rebel Whopper" is prepared on the same grill "to produce the characteristic flame grill aroma". As in the classic Whopper egg-containing mayonnaise is used. The "Rebel Whopper" is therefore not suitable for vegans.

Unlike Burger King, McDonald's does not have meatless burgers in the US. Since the end of September, "P.L.T. burgers" (plant, lettuce, tomato plants, lettuce, tomatoes) have been sold in Canada for twelve weeks. The supplier is the hyped US start-up Beyond Meat, which made a brilliant start to the stock market in May. Beyond Meat has been working with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Tim Horton and Dunkin Donuts for quite some time now.

The reason why fast food chains have different suppliers for meatless patties, depending on the continent: So far, the manufacturers simply have no production facilities abroad. And the long transport would not be worthwhile.

But that could change soon when Beyond Meat has had patties and pork protein patties made in the Netherlands and Italy from 2020 onwards. Then the current McDonald's Pattie supplier Nestlé would get a competitor more.

The market for meat substitutes is highly competitive. "If a pioneer is extremely successful, many imitators – especially big players – are pushing into a future market," says Jan Wirsam, a professor of business administration at the HTW Berlin. Start-ups such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and "The Vegetarian Butcher" were together with the German mid-sized company Rügenwalder Mühle with the first.

Nestlé, Unilever or the world's largest meat processor Tyson Foods However, they are greatly expanding their supply of plant proteins. Currently, the demand for the hyped burger patties is higher than the supply, so Wirsam. That could change quickly if the market were flooded with similar products.

Anyone who is allowed to sell his meatless patties to fast food giants has a clear advantage. Large quantities are guaranteed. In addition, the customers get used to the taste and buy the patties possibly also for roasting for home.

The burger chains, in turn, can attract new customers who have previously deliberately avoided fast-food fast-food chains. The animal welfare organization Peta praised the "Vegan TS" from McDonald's. The burger is "even for meat lovers a great alternative to burgers, for animals are killed."

Although restaurants such as McDonald's still focus on meat products, it's "no mistake to eat vegan there". Finally, demand determines supply.

More: The former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook must go because he had a relationship with a co-worker. The new boss takes on a heavy legacy.

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