KFC joins meat-alternative race, goes Beyond Fried Chicken
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has announced that it is today launching plant-based chicken from Beyond Meat in a test run at a single Atlanta restaurant.
The company boasted that it was the first fast food restaurant to sell plant-based chicken. KFC said it would evaluate the launch to test the possibility of a national rollout.
The chicken will be available in the usual array of options for regular chicken, such as nuggets and wings. Indeed, KFC will be using its existing fryolators to cook the plant-based chicken alongside the regulator, potentially excluding stricter vegetarians or vegans.
"KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with. To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken, in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey. My only regret is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment," said Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat.
The news demonstrates the intensity of the race to implement meat alternatives, coming on the heels of Tim Horton’s nationwide launch of Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches across Canada in June, and Beyond Meat burgers in July. In May, Barclays estimated the market for alternative meats could reach $140bn in the next ten years, a figure which would represent 10% of the global meat industry.
In May, Beyond Meat went public with an IPO that saw it valued at $3.8bn. The major competitor to Beyond Meat, Impossible Burgers, has also been making moves in the space, recently partnering with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper burger across America.
Outside of the two heavyweights, there are a number of promising meat-alternative startups. As Harry Menear detailed earlier this month, companies such as Future Meat Technologies and Memphis Meats are hoping to steal a march on the bigger companies.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”