July 8, 2021

(Reuters) -Beyond Meat Inc brought back a chicken offering to its product portfolio with the launch of plant-based chicken tenders on Thursday as the faux-meat maker looks to capitalize on booming demand for meat alternatives amid a shift towards healthy eating in the pandemic.

The company is launching the product in around 400 U.S. restaurants, more than two years after it discontinued a frozen chicken strip offering due to negative reviews.

Beyond Meat, known for its faux beef Beyond Burger, launched Chicken Strips as its first alternative meat product in 2012.

Made out of faba beans and peas, the improved faux meat chicken tenders recipe has 14 grams of protein per serving, no cholesterol and contains 40% less saturated fat than the leading foodservice chicken tender, Beyond Meat said in a statement.

The move to reintroduce a chicken product follows a 26% drop in the company’s U.S. foodservice revenue in the three months to April 3.

In an interview with CNBC, Beyond Meat’s chief executive, Ethan Brown, said the chicken tenders were priced keeping foodservice in mind and that the company planned to launch more chicken meat substitutes in the future. The timing of the launch with the reopening of the US restaurants was a co-incidence, he said.

Blissful Burgers, Detroit Wing Company and Melt Bar & Grilled are some of the smaller chains and restaurants where the chicken tenders will be available on Thursday, the company said.

Shares of the El-Segundo, California-based company, which did not disclose whether the product would be sold at grocery stores, were up 1.3%.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Mehr Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Vinay Dwivedi)