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Veggie Rebel Whopper From Burger King Now Available Across Europe

Veggie Rebel Whopper From Burger King Now Available Across Europe
United States based restaurant chain Burger King has tied up with Unilever to sell the latter’s plant-based patty as the US firm rolled out its meat-free Rebel Whopper across Europe on Tuesday. This is the largest product launch in the history of the burger chain and the largest deal with a restaurant company for its plant-based meat patty for Unilever.
A patty made by The Vegetarian Butcher, a Netherlands-based manufacturer of faux meat products bought by Unilever at the end of 2018, is being offered in the Rebel Whopper product at more than 2,500 Burger King outlets in 25 countries in Europe.
There is a growing demand for alternative meat among customers globally and this has pressurized large global restaurant chains to start testing products as well as suppliers of alternative meat based products. Earlier this year, Burger King started offering a Whopper in the US that has a vegetable meat patty from Impossible Foods Inc and had launched in Sweden its Rebel Whopper and the Rebel Chicken King. The closest rival of Burger King - McDonald’s Corp., has in the meanwhile chosen to tie up with Nestle SA for supplying vegetable based burgers in its outlets in Germany and while it tied up with Beyond Meat Inc. for its meatless patties for a trial run for the same in Canada.
For Unilever, the deal with Burger King for Europe is a huge win because the European company has added a wide range to its portfolio of meatless products which includes Hellmann’s egg-free mayonnaise and dairy-free Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s ice creams. The Rebel menu items in Sweden were developed by Burger King in partnership with the Dutch producer Vivera. According to David Shear, president of Burger King and Popeyes EMEA, the Vegetarian Butcher was “the best possible partner” for the Europe launch.
The roll out however had little impact on the share price of Unilever.
Shear said in an interview that a launch of this size “is not an easy thing.” “We’re able to do it because of our joint expertise on being able to develop the product and scale it up so effectively,” he said.
Ninth-generation meat farmer Jaap Korteweg had founded the Vegetarian Butcher in 2007 and more than 4,000 outlets in 17 countries now stock the company’s products. The ability of the company to take on larger deals was bolstered after it was acquired by Unilever, said Chief Executive Officer Hugo Verkuil. The company started negotiations with Burger King for te development of the Rebel Whopper at the beginning of the year.
Earlier this month, Kellogg Co.’s Morningstar Farms veggie burgers were rejected by Burger King as its preferred choice for the US market. This followed the nationwide rollout of the soy-based Impossible patties that has a price tag of $1 more compared to the regular Whoppers. Recently, Jose Cil, CEO of the parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc., recently lauded the Impossible Whopper as “one of the most successful product launches in Burger King’s history.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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