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Mary Mazzoni headshot

Impossible Chicken Nuggets Are Here! And Other Plant-Based Food Rollouts You May Have Missed

By Mary Mazzoni
Impossible Chicken Nuggets new plant-based foods

As we gear up for Climate Week and look ahead to the COP26 climate talks later this fall, ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst of the climate crisis are top of mind. And with a major new study revealing that meat accounts for nearly 60 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from food production, emitting 28 times more than growing plants, choosing more plant-based foods is one major way that anyone can get involved in cutting global emissions down to size. 

Fortunately more than 800 companies and brands now specialize in plant-based foods, and they're introducing a host of creative concoctions that can suit any taste. Here are a few recent rollouts you may have missed, including the much-anticipated new launch from Impossible Foods. 

Impossible Chicken Nuggets roll out at restaurants, will hit retailers later this month

Impossible Foods' latest offering, Impossible Chicken Nuggets, rolled out at a selection of fast-casual and upscale dining locations across the U.S. this month, including David Chang’s fried chicken concept Fuku in New York City, Marcus Samuelsson’s comfort food eatery Red Rooster in Harlem and Miami, and fast-food chain Fatburger in California. 

Impossible claims that 7 out of 10 consumers preferred its plant-based chicken nuggets to the real thing in a blind taste test. “We are tremendously excited about our Impossible Nuggets. But this launch isn’t really about nuggets. It’s about the historic inflection point we’ve reached. For the first time, consumers unquestionably prefer meat made from plants instead of meat from an iconic animal,” Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, said in a statement. “In the battle for the future of food, this is the first time David has categorically bested Goliath, but it won’t be the last.” 

Those are pretty big words, but Impossible is betting big that the next "chicken war" will be plant-based. The Impossible Nuggets will roll out to major retailers including Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway and ShopRite later this month, and Impossible expects them to be available at more than 10,000 grocery stores by the end of the year. The news comes after a nationwide retail rollout of the company's Impossible Sausage product in August. 

McDonald's debuts long-awaited vegan McPlant burger in the U.K.

The fast-food giant plans to launch its much anticipated plant-based burger in the U.K. later this month. The McPlant will first debut at 10 restaurants in the central English city of Coventry and will be on the menu at 250 U.K. locations by the end of October before rolling out to every U.K. restaurant early next year. 

Notable for the fast-food industry, the McPlant is entirely vegan — featuring a plant-based patty co-developed with Beyond Meat, a vegan cheese substitute made with pea protein, and vegan versions of McDonald's classic sesame bun and special sauce. The fast-food giant also says the Beyond Meat patty will be cooked on a dedicated vegan-only grill.

McDonald's has yet to release a timeline for introducing the McPlant or another plant-based offering in the U.S., but it's safe to say it may be a while before it pops up on U.S. menus.

Hershey tests vegan chocolate bars at U.S. retailers

This month Hershey introduced a pair of new vegan chocolate bars made from oat milk. With two introductory flavors, almond with sea salt and classic dark chocolate, Hershey's new Oat Made line will be available in select U.S. retailers including Target through next summer. The company says it will track how the new products perform as it considers whether to add them to its permanent portfolio. 

The new launch is part of Hershey's push to develop healthier products that include less sugar and more plant-based alternatives. 

Jermaine Dupri launches a line of vegan ice cream

Music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri is getting into the plant-based ice cream game. The longtime vegan announced his line of dairy-free frozen deserts last month, which he plans to start rolling out at U.S. restaurants in October in a strategy modeled after the rise of Impossible Foods, which launched in restaurants before expanding production enough to serve major retailers.

"We are going to launch it like Impossible did, so just available in restaurants first. Then people can find it and eat it at home," Dupri told The Beet, an online publication covering the plant-based foods sector where he serves as a creative advisor.

There's no firm word yet on where the brand, appropriately dubbed JD's Vegan, will appear first, but Dupri mentioned Nic’s on Beverly and Crossroads Kitchen, two popular vegan eateries in Los Angeles, in his interview with The Beet. The line includes six flavors made in small batches in New Jersey, using coconut milk as a base.

New plant-based foods may soon be coming to KFC's menu

Impossible Foods may soon have a new competitor in the brewing plant-based chicken war, as the president of KFC's operations in the U.S. hinted that new plant-based offerings are coming soon. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, President of KFC in the U.S. Kevin Hochman said the fast-food giant is working on a plant-based alternative to its trademark fried chicken and plans to incorporate more plant-based foods into the company’s nationwide menu in the near future. 

Image courtesy of Impossible Foods 

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni