Burger King is cutting the price of its Impossible Whopper, the faux-meat burger it introduced last year, as sales start to slip.
Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., the biggest Burger King franchisee in the United States, said sales tapered off to about 28 Impossible Whoppers daily per store — down from 32 previously. The company, which has more than 1,000 Burger King locations, said sales seem to be stabilizing at that level. The sandwich was recently added to the chain’s two-for-$6 discount menu on a temporary basis. That compares to the previous suggested price of $5.59 per sandwich.
The slowdown is not stopping the chain from using the item to attract customers, however. More promotions and ads are coming for Impossible Foods Inc. items, Carrols Chief Executive Daniel Accordino said at a conference.
“That plant-based platform will be advertised and will be expanded on the Burger King marketing calendar in 2020,” he said, noting that there will be an expansion of the Impossible Whopper line this year, and that the company is testing the Impossible Whopper Jr. and Impossible Sausage.
Shares of Beyond Meat Inc., a competitor of privately held Impossible Foods, fell 5.2% on Wednesday.
Dominic Flis, a Burger King owner in Little Rock, Ark., said Impossible Whopper sales have recently fallen to fewer than 20 per store a day, down from 30 when it was first introduced. He may now be selling it at a loss, he said.
“It’s definitely compressing the margin,” he said.
Burger King’s plant-based Whopper “continues to exceed expectations, drive traffic to our restaurants and attract new incremental guests,” Chris Finazzo, president of the chain’s Americas region, said in a statement. “We continue to see high levels of repeat restaurant visits, showing that guests are enjoying the Impossible Whopper and returning for more over and over again.”
Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., introduced the meat alternative nationwide last year after a successful test in St. Louis. The company said in October that the sandwich was a “huge hit” and helped U.S. comparable sales, a closely watched measure, climb 5% in the third quarter.
Impossible-related promotions have included free delivery, free samples for delayed airport passengers and, beginning last week, the item’s entry on the discount menu.
Impossible Foods “is satisfied” with sales at fast-food restaurants, spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said. She said that a lot of variability is normal due to factors such as seasonality, ad campaigns and restaurant locations.
“We’re happy to work with customers to improve sales across the board,” Konrad said.
Nationwide, restaurants and grocery stores are rushing to add plant-based options. It remains to be seen whether their popularity is a long-lasting trend, but the biggest restaurant and food companies are moving to capitalize on the growth. Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday that it’s exploring meat alternatives for its breakfast menu, while McDonald’s Corp. is testing faux meat from Beyond Meat in Canada and from Swiss company Nestle in Germany. Food distributor Sysco Corp. said last week that it’s introducing a new plant-based burger patty in the United States.
Despite the rising popularity of faux meat, Americans are also eating more real meat than ever. Total consumption of red meat and poultry is expected to rise to 225.6 pounds per person this year from 224.3 pounds in 2019, according to USDA data. Even at Burger King, there’s no evidence the meat-free option has led to less meat consumption.
Impossible Whopper sales were not cutting into regular Whopper sales, UBS analyst Steven Strycula said in a note last month.
It’s not surprising that sales have leveled off, said Adam Chandler, author of “Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom.”
“The fatigue tends to set in after the initial buzz,” he said, noting that Carrols has reported a similar stabilization in sales of the much-hyped Popeyes chicken sandwiches. But Chandler doesn’t expect the Impossible Whopper to be cut from menus anytime soon because of the chain’s big investment in a national rollout.
“It’s going to stick around for a long time,” he predicted.
NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), the leading media brand in the foodservice industry, has unveiled its 2020 NRN Power List, an annual list of the 50 most influential people, including a ranking of the restaurant industry’s top 10 most powerful people.
Selected by the editors of Nation’s Restaurant News, and curated from industrywide submissions, this year’s NRN Power List highlights 50 innovators in technology and innovation disrupting and shaping the future of the food economy. This year’s list features people bringing game-changing technologies and unrivaled creativity to the biggest issues facing restaurants today, including delivery, digital ordering, customer experience and sustainable sourcing.
The NRN Power List’s 10 most powerful people in foodservice are:
Also on the full list of 50 are CEOs leading billion-dollar digital businesses, executives pioneering the use of artificial intelligence in restaurants, food scientists changing the way we eat, chefs pioneering the use of CBD and cannabis in the kitchen and entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of what defines a restaurant today.
The complete Power List report can be found here.
“The restaurant industry is undergoing a period of limitless innovation,” said Nancy Luna, an NRN senior editor specializing in covering the restaurant technology landscape. “That is why Nation’s Restaurant News has dedicated its 2020 Power List to the disruptors, digital transformers, food innovators and risk takers defining the industry.”
“The NRN Power List is the most-watched curation of foodservice industry power players, and the 2020 list provides a comprehensive look at cutting-edge leaders in all areas of business,” said Sarah Lockyer, group publisher of Nation’s Restaurant News and the Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect. “Innovation is a required element for success today, and the Power List allows our audience to learn from and be inspired by the best minds in the business.”
“We are also excited to extend the Power List brand throughout the year with additional power player rankings and networking events that give our readers and partners even more opportunities to learn, grow and connect,” Lockyer added.
About Nation’s Restaurant News
Nation's Restaurant News (NRN) is the No. 1 source of business information for the foodservice industry. For more than 50 years, NRN has served the information and engagement needs of foodservice professionals, offering award-winning content across all mediums with the goal of driving businesses forward. NRN was named Best Media Brand by the Jesse H. Neal Awards in 2019. NRN is part of the Informa Restaurant & Food Group.
About The Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect
The Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect is the largest and most integrated media brand portfolio in foodservice and supermarket retail. The group connects the entire food and foodservice ecosystem of operators, chefs, retailers, manufacturers, vendors and solutions providers through traditional, digital, social and custom media as well as in-person events and conferences.
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