Is it possible to make a sausage pizza without the sausage? According to Pizza Hut, the answer is yes.
On Tuesday morning, Pizza Hut, in a partnership with Beyond Meat, became the first national pizza chain to introduce plant-based meat pizzas across the United States. These new pizzas are now available at all American Pizza Hut locations and in select locations in London.
As part of the partnership, the fast-food chain will offer two new pizza options with a plant-based Italian sausage substitute: a "Beyond Italian Sausage" pizza (a cheese pizza topped with Beyond sausage crumble) and a "Great Beyond" pizza (a veggie pizza also topped with the sausage crumble).
Beyond Meat and Pizza Hut co-created the new plant-based meat option using a blend of garlic, paprika, and fennel seeds to mimic the taste of sausage.
"Our partnership with Pizza Hut is a category first and together we will continue to raise the bar on game changing product innovations as we introduce the delicious taste of Beyond Meat products to pizza fans nationwide," said Ethan Brown, CEO and founder of Beyond Meat.
Pizza Hut last year had tested a fake-sausage pizza using a different meatless substitute: Kellogg's Incogmeato. The company hoped it would attract customers who are concerned about the environment. Plant-based proteins use far less water and are responsible for fewer emissions than their animal protein counterparts.
The announcement that Beyond Meat pizza is going nationwide comes as plant-based meat sales are surging. With the pandemic forcing some meat plants to operate at reduced speed — and forcing others to close altogether — traditional meat has gotten more expensive. The average price of a pound of ground beef, for example, increased by $0.99 between April and June 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Several quick-serve restaurant chains have unveiled plant-based meat substitutes on their menus. Burger King made its Impossible Whopper available nationally after just one month of testing last year.
Shares for Beyond Meat had surged more than 40% since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Pizza Hut's big bet on Beyond could further validate the growing demand for meat substitutes.
However, Beyond Meat reported financial results Monday afternoon that badly missed Wall Street's forecasts. And McDonald's announced its new McPlant initiative to create its own meatless hamburgers, chicken nuggets and other items that will compete with Beyond. That send Beyond Meat shares plummeting more than 17% in premarket trading.