KFC is testing plant-based chicken in Canada

A one-day trial in Mississauga will help determine if the QSR will launch the products nationally.

KFC Canada-KFC Canada introduces Plant-Based Fried Chicken

KFC Canada is dipping its toe into the plant-based category, but you might need to act fast if you are interested in trying it.

On Wednesday at a KFC location is Mississauga, the QSR chain will be testing a fried “chicken” sandwich and popcorn “chicken” made with a plant-based protein from Maple Leaf Foods-owned Lightlife. KFC will use feedback from the test to decide if it will roll out the products on a national scale next year.

The plant-based options will join a menu that also includes a vegetarian sandwich KFC has sold in Canada since 2009. They are also new products from Lightlife’s end, though it does sells a different imitation chicken tender product at retail. Dan Curtin, president and CEO of Maple Leaf’s plant-based division Greenleaf Foods, says working with a partner like KFC can help the brand make plant-based products more widely available in Canada.

Other QSRs were previously quick to jump on the plant-based trend after Beyond Meat burgers first offered at A&W sold out at locations across Canada, but have since begun taking a more measured approach after the buzz began to die down and the flood of offerings didn’t drive trial. After a national launch, Tim Hortons removed the Beyond Meat burger from its menu in September, and reduced its offering of the Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich to only British Columbia and Ontario, where there had been a “positive reaction.” McDonald’s added a Beyond Meat burger to its menu in September, but only at a handful of test locations in Ontario to determine future plans, both in Canada (globally, it’s also introduced the McVegan in Scandinavian countries).

KFC itself has also taken a slow-and-steady approach to plant-based products: in August, its U.S. arm tested a plant-based chicken product developed with Beyond Meat at locations in Atlanta. Tapping Lightlife for its test in Canada allows KFC to use a product that is made in Canada, a company spokesperson said in an email, which is similar to the motivations of Canadian burger chain Harvey’s when it added a Lightlife burger to its menu this year.

Earlier this year, KFC Canada picked John St. as its new AOR and got new marketing leadership as part of a shuffle at parent company Yum! Brands.