The Impossible Whopper is joining a growing crowd of plant-based burger offerings on fast-food menus across the country.
Burger King in early April began testing what it's dubbing the Impossible Whopper at 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area using patties from Impossible Foods, a California maker of meat substitutes.
The vegetarian take on Burger King's signature sandwich proved popular enough in its limited debut that the fast-food chain plans to roll it out nationwide by the end of the year, Burger King said on Monday. Owned by Restaurant Brands International, Burger King has 7,300 outlets across the U.S.
Burger King will expand the plant-based Whopper to other markets during the summer, as it ramps up for a national launch later in the year, RBI's CEO Jose Cil told analysts in an earnings call Monday.
The tryout in St. Louis "went exceedingly well," a Burger King spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch. The sandwich is set to appear in additional markets in the very near future, the spokesperson added.
The move is by no means a fast-food first, as White Castle in September began selling the so-called Impossible Slider, and veggie rival Beyond Meat in January said it was rolling out its plant-based burger at fast-food chain Carl's Jr. Both food suppliers are trying to tap into increased demand for meat alternatives, especially from younger consumers who often view them as healthier and less damaging to the environment.
A Nielsen Homescan survey in 2017 found that 39 percent of Americans said they were actively trying to eat more plant-based foods. In fake meat's favor, sales of vegan staples like tofu, brown rice and granola have flattened, while sales of other, plant-based alternatives, including meat and cheese alternatives, have surged, Nielsen found.
Beyond Meat estimated the potential value of the U.S. plant-based meat market at a whopping $35 billion in its regulatory filing outlining its planned IPO, with shares of the 10-year-old company expected to begin trading this week.