I began my 9+ year career with Yum! on the Pizza Hut, U.S., business. During my time at Pizza Hut, I got to know the business inside-and-out, doing turns on the HR, Finance, Ecommerce, and Marketing teams. Among many things I was fortunate to be involved in during my time at Pizza Hut, I worked with terrific teams to launch pizza tracking and update texts for digital orders, rollout the Hut Rewards loyalty program, and bring a partnership with the NFL to life. In March of 2020, I transitioned to a role on the Yum! Strategy Team, where I became involved in corporate strategy work and the leadership of the R.E.D. Brands Council with Catherine Tan Gillespie. Just about a month ago, I stepped into a new role on the same team, leading global strategic partnerships for Yum!. As I work with the brands to ensure that we’re engaging the right disruptive partners and collaborating appropriately to maximize the power of Yum, I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds!
As we think about some of the ways that consumer attitudes are evolving around food, we’re seeing a growing interest for menu offerings to meet the demand for sustainable options and flexible diets. Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in flexitarian behavior when people who eat meat opt to replace some of their meat-eating occasions with plant-based choices. Companies like Beyond Meat have stepped in to meet this need with great-tasting plant-based options that are designed to mimic the taste and texture of their animal protein counterparts. Given the growing consumer demand for more diverse protein options, we felt like the timing was ripe to forge a global strategic partnership with one of the most innovative companies in the plant-based food space, Beyond Meat. Our partnership builds on a strong foundation of innovative and delicious collaborations with Beyond Meat, including KFC’s test of Beyond Fried Chicken in the U.S.
Through our partnership, we will have the opportunity to partner very closely with dedicated resources, from the highly innovative Beyond team who is based in Los Angeles, California. Our Yum! R&D teams are hard at work with Beyond to co-create craveable and innovative plant-based protein menu items that can only be found at KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell over the next several years.
Meeting the expectations of the next generation of customers is top-of-mind for all of our restaurant teams around the world. We’re excited about the long-term potential plant-based protein menu items have to attract more customers to our brands, especially younger consumers. We’ve been encouraged with how KFC’s and Pizza Hut’s tests with Beyond Meat in the U.S. and international markets have been received by customers and demonstrated consumer interest in more plant-based options. As of the writing of this post, we’ve seen Beyond products sold through Yum! restaurants in Canada, the United States and, the United Kingdom.
Beyond Meat is purpose-driven, with a bold mission to “positively affect the planet, the environment, the climate and even ourselves.” Specific to sustainability, Beyond points to the water, land and energy resources that are used in the animal meat production chain. Through its innovative plant-based production processes, Beyond is able to use 99% less water, use 93% less land, generate 90% fewer greenhouse gases, and use 46% less energy (when you compare what is involved in producing a Beyond burger vs. a beef burger).
The next generation of QSR consumers is proving to be more aware of and motivated by sustainability and wellness. While we don’t expect meat alternatives to ever replace the iconic core menu items that customers love and come to us for, having craveable plant-based options on our menus will mean that flexitarian customers can choose our brands more often. And that’s a win for everyone!