Struggling Chicken Farmers Concerned Over Demand for Vegan Meat

Struggling Chicken Farmers Concerned Over Demand for Vegan Meat

Chicken producers say they do not want vegan meat products to be labeled as “beef, chicken, or meat” alternatives.

Producers made the comments during the Alberta Chicken Producers Annual General Meeting last month. They said they are opposed to the term “plant-based chicken nuggets.”

Many are concerned the labels mislead and confuse consumers. The meat industry has lobbied for laws that restrict the use of the word “meat” on plant-based products. However, chicken producers understand it is difficult to legally challenge plant-based meat labels.

In the United States, states including Arkansas, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming have introduced labeling laws that would prevent vegan chicken nuggets from using the term “chicken nuggets.” A federal court blocked Arkansas’ law last December.

According to The Western Producer, poultry producers have already met to discuss the alternative protein market because farmers realize they now face the same competitor: plant-based chicken.

Struggling Chicken Farmers Concerned Over Demand for Vegan Meat
Plant-based chicken products launched in popular fast-food chains like KFC. | KFC

Global Demand for Plant-Based Chicken

According to the World Resources Institute, chicken production in the U.S. has increased over the past five decades. Beef production, on the other hand, has remained stagnant.

The increase in chicken consumption is due, in part, to its perceived health benefits over beef. But diets are changing. Last year, a studyconducted by DuPont Nutrition & Health and HealthFocus International—found that 52 percent of shoppers in America (and 65 percent globally) are eating more plant-based food. 

As more people adopt flexitarian diets, plant-based meats have seen a surge in popularity, particularly vegan chicken products.

Earlier this year, El Pollo Loco launched meat-free chicken in all of its locations. KFC launched Quorn’s vegan chicken in all UK locations and trialed Beyond Meat’s vegan chicken in select U.S. restaurants. 

A&W Canada tested vegan chicken nuggets at select locations last fall, while popular South African restaurant chain Nando’s launched a plant-based chicken patty in Australia.

This year, plant-based chicken startup Daring Foods launched its own clean label “chicken” made from five ingredients. Nuggs also hit the market with a “tender and meatier” chicken-less nugget made of texturized pea protein.

Popular UK bakery chain Greggs is also considering adding vegan chicken to its menu.

Greggs’ CEO Roger Whiteside told The Sun: “[vegan] chicken is a way forward. I have seen some good products out there.”