UPDATE: April 29, 2019: Burger King will roll out the vegan Impossible Burger patty nationwide by the end of 2019 following a successful pilot in St. Louis.
- Burger King is testing a flame-grilled, plant-based Impossible Whopper at 59 locations in and around the St. Louis area, according to a release.
- The restaurant is now be the largest food chain to carry Impossible Food's patty, which is designed to taste like meat.
- To promote the LTO, Burger King launched a taste-testing video on YouTube.
The plant-based burger is nothing new to restaurants — Red Robin and White Castle have jumped on the Impossible trend while Beyond Meat is targeting McDonald's and Wendy's. Carl's Jr. has been offering Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger at more than 1,000 locations. Bareburger, Qdoba and Del Taco have also partnered with Beyond.
Burger King is going by way of White Castle and rolling out the menu item to all of its restaurants in short fashion, adding to its current offerings that include Morning Star veggie patty, which also could go vegan. (Morning Star's currently working to make its patty free of egg whites and 100% animal-friendly.) With a recent LiveKindly survey finding 59% of Americans eating vegan meals once daily, Burger King could dwarf competitors' sales upon its latest installment.
Wooing new customers to try this new item could come down to the flavor. So far, neither employees nor customers have been able to distinguish between true beef and Impossible's plant-based meat, Burger King CMO Fernando Machado told the New York Times.
As Burger King and other QSRs strive to meet more vegan customers' needs, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods should gain further partnerships. Then again, anti-cruelty consumers might not approve of Impossible testing an ingredient on rats, according to Statnews.com. A key ingredient in the Impossible Burger, soy leghemoglobin, which was tested on animals, contains the molecule heme — also found in actual meat. Impossible Foods hopes this ingredient will manipulate the taste buds and have consumers get the same satisfaction from real beef.
As the plant-based trend continues to grow among consumers, Burger King should gain serious ground in the vegan space by deploying the Impossible Whopper nationwide — unless McDonald's or Wendy's enters the contest.