On Monday, the chain announced it's expanding the rollout of its plant-based burger in more than 1,700 locations across the U.S. and Canada as it competes with other major chains that are beefing up their meatless meat game.
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The full-service family restaurant says it's expanding its flexitarian diet - otherwise known as semi-vegetarian diet -- following an "overwhelmingly successful" exclusive run in Los Angeles this past fall.
The burger is made from the California-based startup Beyond Meat, which makes “meat” from pea protein, canola oil, beet juice and other ingredients. Beyond Meat is among the companies, such as Impossible Foods, racing to tap into the massive U.S. market of meat eaters by more closely mimicking the taste of beef than vegetarian patties of the past.
From soy-based sliders to ground lentil sausages, plant-based meat substitutes are surging in popularity. And carnivores — not vegans or vegetarians — are among the biggest consumers. Growing demand for healthier, more sustainable food is one reason people are seeking plant-based meats.
Annual U.S. sales of plant-based meats jumped 42 percent from March 2016 through March 2019 to a total of $888 million, according to Nielsen. Traditional meat sales rose 1 percent to $85 billion in that same time frame.
"Partnering with Denny's has been a big step in increasing offerings for those looking to introduce plant-based protein into their diets or for alternative choices at their favorite restaurants," said Tim Smith, Beyond Meat's VP of North America sales, foodservice.
To celebrate its deep dive into the meatless market, the chain is giving away Beyond Burgers with the purchase of any beverage at all participating locations on Jan. 30 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., while supplies last.
Denny's Beyond Burger features a 100 percent plant-based Beyond Burger patty topped with sliced tomatoes and onions, lettuce, pickles, American cheese and its All-American sauce on a multigrain bun.
The news comes just after rival McDonald’s announced it was taking a bigger bite out of the plant-based burger trend by expanding its initial trial of vegan burgers, also made from Beyond Meat, across locations in Canada.
Beyond Meat became a publicly traded company in May when it listed its shares for $45 on the Nasdaq. By July, those shares had risen more than 430 percent. Impossible Foods has raised more than $750 million but remains private.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.