Arby’s is turning the plant-based meat craze on its head by testing meat-based plants.
The new marketing scheme highlights Arby’s meat-only credentials, reenforcing its slogan: “We have the meats.”
The company says it has produced a new meat-vegetable hybrid food category called “megetables.” It’s an obvious troll against its fast food rivals, including Burger King, McDonald’s (MCD) and a dozen or so others, which are adding plant-based meat alternatives to their menus.
Arby’s has no immediate plans to sell its crazy new concoctions in stores, and the blog post announcing the megetables reads fully tongue-in cheek. But an Arby’s spokesman said the concept is “not a joke at all.”
First from the Arby’s test kitchen is the “Marrot,” a meat-carrot made of turkey breast sliced into the shape of a carrot. It’s then sous vide for an hour and rubbed down in a “special carrot marinade” made of dried carrot juice powder. It’s then topped with a maple syrup powder, oven-roasted for an hour and topped with a parsley to “give it the full carrot effect,” Arby’s said.
Arby’s claims it’s healthy, too: A Marrot has 70% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A and more than 30 grams of protein, the company says.
“Plant-based meats are the latest incarnation of making vegetables look like what Americans really want, which is great, tasty meat,” Jim Taylor, Arby’s chief marketing officer said on the company’s blog.
Beyond Meat (BYND) and Impossible Foods have both developed plant-based meat that tastes and cooks similar to real meat.
Arby’s said it’s developing other “protein-packed vegetables.”
“We want to continue to innovate in the space of meat craft that never existed before in ways that are surprising and delicious and exceed the expectations of what you can get through a drive-thru,” Taylor said.
Arby’s has publicly vowed in the past to not add fake meat to its menu. The Inspire Brands-owned company said it wasn’t interested in selling Impossible Foods’ products, noting the “chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.”
It’s bucking the trend, as interest in plant-based protein is on the rise. Meat eaters are looking to diversify their diets to be healthier and reduce their impact on the environment.
Burger King is in the process of rolling out Impossible Whoppers nationwide, Tim Horton’s is selling sandwiches with Beyond Meat patties and McDonald’s is testing a meatless burger in Germany and a few other countries.
The craze has been a boon for Beyond Meat. Its stock has shot up more than 500% since going public in May.