veggie burgers

The New Must-Have Item at Restaurant Chains Is a High-Tech Veggie Burger

In all its meatless glory. Photo: Beyond Meat

Plant-based meat alternatives are about to cross another milestone in America: The industry, already predicted to be worth nearly $6 billion in five more years, is moving squarely into the fast-food realm on Monday when the fast-growing chain BurgerFi adds the popular Beyond Burger to the menu at eight locations in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Florida, just in time for the Fourth of July. BurgerFi CEO Corey Winograd tells the New York Times that they’re trying to stay on the forefront of food trends; the Beyond Burger is Beyond Meat’s very realistic pea-based patty that’s attracted lots of interest for famously “bleeding” beet juice. “There’s a movement beginning where people are looking to have a diet that’s primarily plant-based,” Winograd says, “and we try to give people what they want.”

Last May, Whole Foods started selling Beyond Burgers in the meat section, and New York–based chain Bareburger added a burger by Beyond’s main rival Impossible Foods to the menu in March — news the vegan start-up followed three weeks later by breaking ground on an ambitious production facility the size of a San Francisco block that’s capable of pumping out 1 million pounds of meat alternative every month. Over Memorial Day weekend, Beyond Burger sales were actually higher in Omaha, Nebraska, than they were in Brooklyn or L.A.’s Venice Beach, the company’s co-founder Ethan Brown tells the Times. As more consumers adopt a so-called “flexitarian” diet, the smarter chains have started to realize that they need more than burgers wrapped in low-cal tortillas. (In fact, Sonic Drive-In is about to add a mushroom-beef-blend burger, the first on its menu that’s not entirely cow.)

Retailers have only been selling Beyond Meat’s products for four years, and already Tyson Foods has come on as a major investor. Like a growing number of fast-food chains, BurgerFi already has one sandwich (the VeggieFi) for vegetarians who want to order a burger, but Beyond Burger’s addition will provide an option for when they’re after something that “truly tastes like burger.” It should be available at all of BurgerFi’s locations by the end of the summer, and at a price that’s hard to argue with, too: When Impossible Foods introduced the first “bleeding” veggie burger at the end of 2014, it cost $20. BurgerFi’s will sell for $9.

Chains’ New Must-Have Item Is a High-Tech Veggie Burger