Last month, fast-food chain KFC announced the launch of vegan chicken nuggets at three locations in China: Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
The meat-free nuggets are made with soy, wheat and peas protein and locally sourced water chestnuts. The plant-based product perfectly mimics the look, texture and taste of chicken.
To trial the latest offering, the chain released presale coupons via its mobile app.
KFC confirms that in the city of Shanghai, the coupons sold out within one hour.
The new plant-based nuggets were available for purchase from April 20 to April 23 (a week before the launch) through the KFC's mobile app.
The nuggets were priced at 1.99 yuan ($0.28) for five pieces. The KFC customers and vegan food fans bought over 7,000 coupons over four days.
The new product launch is a collaboration between KFC and Cargill Inc, a US-based agribusiness giant.
“We are committed to embracing innovation and continue to delight and surprise our customers with tasty products,” Joey Wat, CEO of KFC parent company Yum China, said.
“The test of KFC’s Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets caters to the growing market in China for delicious alternative meat options on the go. We believe that testing the plant-based chicken concept with one of our most iconic products will take this increasingly popular meatless trend to a new level.”
The demand for meat-free products is growing in China. The plant-based market is projected to reach $27.9 billion by 2025.
According to China Daily, Covid-19 could spark customer interests in safe and sustainable protein alternatives.
Daisy Li, an associate director at a consultancy firm, Mintel said: "A mixture of factors, including urbanization, environmental impact, and a pure surge in animal protein consumption have made it practically impossible to feed the population with inexhaustible animal protein," she said. "The outbreak could effectively spark wider consumer interests in safe and sustainable protein sources, such as plant-based meat or lab-incubated meat as reliable alternatives."