Impossible Foods is excited to officially announce that our Impossible™ Chicken Nuggets Made From Plants are now available to serve at foodservice locations. This is a momentous occasion for our company and the foodservice operators who work hard to satisfy the rising demand and give consumers what they crave - delicious, versatile and sustainable meat made from plants.
As we ramp up production of our irresistibly crispy and tender nuggets, we wanted to explain why we decided to branch out from Impossible™ Burger, what consumers are demanding at restaurants and why you should add more meat made from plants to your menu.
Want to learn more about how we make Impossible Chicken Nuggets nuggets? Read this blog. (opens in a new tab)
Industry Overview: Why Chicken Nuggets?
According to Fooddive.com, chicken has taken over as U.S. consumers' preferred meat product(opens in a new tab), and it’s not hard to see why. Over the past 50 years, Americans have more than doubled their consumption of chicken from 40.1 lbs to 97.6 pounds annually, representing 45% of all meat consumed. Technomic data echoes this sentiment, revealing that 84% of consumers globally order chicken from a restaurant(opens in a new tab) or dining establishment at least once a month.
As consumers eat more chicken than ever, the chicken industry is experiencing major shortages(opens in a new tab) due to environmental causes, worker absenteeism, rising transportation costs and production issues. This has been especially tough on restaurant operators, who have had to deal with extremely high prices, inconsistent supply and menu fluctuations that make serving customers challenging, and worse -- can threaten their business.
Simultaneously plant-based chicken is seeing tremendous growth(opens in a new tab) rates of 18% in 2020 totalling $272 million dollars and over 4 times higher than chicken from animals(opens in a new tab). The increase in consumer demand for more sustainable chicken products reflects the astronomical growth rates of plant-based meat(opens in a new tab) as a category, making chicken nuggets a logical next step for our company. These trends, coupled with the opportunity to create delicious products that help consumers connect the impact of planet to plate, made the choice to launch Impossible™ Chicken Nuggets an easy one.
Chicken is becoming a huge part of the American diet and a tremendous opportunity to provide consumers with sustainable alternatives that taste delicious and help save the planet.
Consumer Trends: What do diners want in 2021?
COVID-19 radically transformed the foodservice industry, and shifting behaviors around in-store dining, health and working from home have had a big impact on dining for restaurants of all sizes and types. Here are a few of the latest consumer trends that will have a direct impact on foodservice operators,
1. Indulgent and nostalgic food is growing quickly across QSR menus and restaurants.
According to Mintel’s Menu Matrix Quadrant from 2017 - 2020,* cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pizza and a noteworthy four chicken dishes were among the top 10 leading QSR menu dishes in Q’3 2020. Grubhub’s State of the Plate report (opens in a new tab)shared that plant-based meat and chicken sandwiches were in the top foods of 2021, meaning that innovative, plant-based builds will resonate with diners.
2. Sustainability and health remain top concerns for younger consumers.
Gen Z and Millennials in particular continue to seek out sustainable menu items that align with their values and help in the fight against climate change, so planet-friendly menu items made with Impossible Chicken Nuggets, recyclable packaging and sustainably farmed ingredients resonate with this age group in particular. In addition, more millennials are becoming parents, meaning that the same environmental values they hold are now applying to their kids, so plant-based kids meals could be an excellent menu option to drive sales.
3. Convenient, snackable items are key for adapting schedules.
As work from home schedules shift eating habits(opens in a new tab), diners aren’t necessarily eating 3 solid meals a day anymore. That means that offering smaller options that are tasty, nutrient-rich and can be prepared quickly can satisfy demand for lighter meals as consumers continue to adapt.
Menu Insights: What are restaurants serving?
Image source: Joyland
2020 was known as the unofficial ‘Year of the Chicken Sandwich Wars(opens in a new tab)’, with more restaurants than ever adding chicken options to menus to satisfy growing demand. This year, all eyes (and mouths) are on plant-based chicken.
According to Datassentials, plant-based chicken dishes have grown ~30% on menus across the nation in the past year, and that number skyrockets to 129% at fast casual restaurants.** While all regions across the United States are adding more plant-based chicken to menus, the Midwest and South are leading the pack, with 61% and 49.5% YOY menu growth respectively.
Over the past year, plant-based chicken dishes have grown ~30% on menus across the nation. That number skyrockets to 129% at fast casual restaurants.
Impossible Chicken Nuggets provide a plethora of delicious options for various dayparts:
Lunch: Provide portable, hand held options like chicken sandwiches or wraps
Dinner: Add as a topper to salads
Appetizers: Create fun dipping options with sauces like Buffalo, Orange or Teriyaki
Sides: Boost the protein intake to meals
Kids meals: Pair with fries or fruit to create a family classic that kids of all ages will love
With Impossible Chicken Nuggets, the possibilities of adding mouthwatering, sustainable menu items that increase revenue, drive traffic and attract new customers are endless. Want to try our irresistible nuggets? Get on the waitlist today!
* Mintel Quick Service Restaurants March 2021 Report
**Datassentials, 3/2021 pull across 4,860 operators