- Taco Bell is testing a proprietary plant-based protein with its new Crispy Melt Taco in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, the company announced Thursday.
- The vegan product, a blend of pea and soy protein, will be available as supplies last and can be added to other dishes in the market. The test
- Some rival QSR brands have seen lackluster results with their plant-based tests. By developing its own protein, however, Taco Bell is signaling confidence that plant-based protein demand will continue to grow.
In addition to this limited market test, products from Taco Bell’s partnership with Beyond Meat will be available by the year’s end, the company said in a statement. The chain rebuffed initial overtures from Beyond Meat in 2019, but quickly changed its position in 2020.
The road to plant-based innovation hasn’t been easy for major chains, however. Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, which initially drove sales and visits, saw sales stagnate eventually. According to market analysts, McDonald’s McPlant test failed to generate expected sales earlier this year. But while McDonald’s and Burger King pursued deals with major plant-based manufactures, Taco Bell owns its new protein, which could give it more flexibility in testing and deployment.
Though Taco Bell’s soy and pea blend is certified vegan, the Crispy Melt Taco is made with a number of different cheeses, making the standard iteration of the taco vegetarian. The company previously tested the Cravetarian plant-based protein and the Naked Chalupa with a crispy plant-based shell in 2021 as seeks to expand its vegetaraian menu options.