Taco Bell Says 'No' To Fake Meat

Taco Bell will roll out its own vegetarian menu items this fall. ( Taco Bell )

Taco Bell says it will not add plant-based meat substitutes to its menu. That announcement comes after the taco chain with 7,072 locations met with representatives of both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Shares of Beyond Meat fell 2% on Wall Street Wednesday on the news from Taco Bell. Last month, Arby’s also said it would not offer plant-based options on its menu.

Earlier this year, Taco Bel it said it would begin testing a vegetarian menu. Since then, competitors like Qdoba and Del Taco have added plant-based ground beef imitations to their menu.

“We’ve looked. We’ve met with Beyond, we’ve met with Impossible — our head of innovation knows everybody, and they all know her,” Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell’s president of North American operations, told CNBC in an interview. “But I think what we’re proud of is that we’ve been doing vegetarian for 57 years.”

Rather than utilize plant-based products, Taco Bell says it will focus on its own vegetarian options. The chain, which is owned by Yum Brands, plans to roll out the vegetarian menu nationally in the fall. Today, 9% of its menu is vegetarian, but customers have been swapping out ground beef for beans in their tacos and burritos for years. In fact, the bean burrito is Taco Bell’s No. 2 bestseller.

“Vegetarians know that about Taco Bell,” Masino said. “They know that they can come in and customize.”

Meanwhile, Taco Bell reported 4% same-store sales growth during its first quarter. The fast-food chain has about 12 times as many locations as Del Taco.

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